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ILLUSTEIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



.'••' 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



BEING 



M E M I K S 



OF SOME OF 



THE MOST NOTED IRISHWOMEN 

i\xmxi il^t Earliest %Qm k tlje 



BY 



E. OWENS BLACKBURNE, 

AUTHOR OF "a woman SCORNED," "THE WAY WOMEN LOVE," ETC. ETC. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



LONDON : 
TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8, CATHERINE STREET, STRAND. 

1877. 

[liii/ht nf Translation reserved bij the A\(thor.] 

BOSTON COLLKGK LI BINARY 
CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. 



-DA 

O'NBLL LIBRARY 
BOSTON COLLEGE 



LONDON : 
SAVILL, EDWARDS AND CO., I'KINTEltiJ, ClIANDOS STHEET, 
COVENT GAKDEN. 



e2r3- 




CONTENTS 

OF 

THE SECOND VOLUME. 



LlTEllARY WOMEN. 

PAGB 

SUSANNA CENTLIVKE 3 

THE HONOURABLE MllS. MONK 16 

CONSTANTIA GRIERSON 22 

CHARLOTTE BROOKE 27 

o MRS. MAUy TIGHE 52 

MARY BOYLE (COUNTESS OP WARWICK) .... 64) 

HENRIETTA BOYLE (LADY O'NEIL) 70 

MARIA EDGEWORTH 73 

FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS 108 

THE MISSES PORTER 143 

SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN 156 

MARGUERITE, COHNTKSH OF BLESSINGTON . . . 198 

ELIZA RVVES 2:^5 

HELEN SELINA, COUNTESS OF DUFFERIN .... 232 

LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL 239 

1570 



CONTENTS. 



MISCELLANEOUS. 

Pi.au 

THE LADY FREEMASON 275 

THE BEAUTIFUL GUNNINGS 281 

THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN 291 

LADY LOUISA CONOLLY 330 

SARAH CURRAN 335 



PART IT. 



LITERARY WOMEN 



VOL. IL 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



SUSANNA CENTLIVRE. 




Born, a.d. 1G67. Dibd, a.d. 1722. 

^E it known that the Person with Pen in 
Hand is no other than a Woman, not a 
little piqued to find that neither the 
Nohility nor Commonality of the Year 1722, had 
Sj)irit enough to erect in Westminster Abbey, a 
monument justly due to the Manes of the never- 
to-be-forgotten Airs. Centlivre, whose works are 
full of lively Incidents, Genteel Language, and 
Humourous Descriptions of real Life, and deserved 
to have been recorded by a pen equal to that* 
which celebrated the Life of Pythagoras. Some 
Authors have had a Shandeian knack of ushering 
in their own Praises, sounding their own Trumpet, 
calling Absurdity Wit, and boasting when they 
ought to blush ; but our Poetess had Modesty, 



* Madame Dacier. 
b2 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



the General Attendant of Merit. She was even 
asham'd to proclaim her own great Genius, proba- 
bly because the Custom of the Times discoun- 
tenanced poetical Excellence in a Female. The 
Gentlemen of tlie Quill published it not, peihaps 
envying her superior Talents ; and her Bookseller, 
complying with national Prejudices, put a fictitious 
name to her Lovers Contrivance thro' Fear that the 
work should be condemned, if known to be 
Femenine. With Modest Diffidence she sent 
her performances, like Orphans, into the World, 
without so much as a Nobleman to protect them ; 
but they did not need to be supported by Interest, 
they were admired as soon as known, their real 
Standard Merit brought crowding Spectatoi-s to 
the Play-houses, and the Female Author, tho' 
unknown, heard Applauses, such as have since 
been heaped upon that great Author and Actor 
Colley Gibber." 

The foregoing is an extract from the quaint 
preface prefixed to the only collected edition of 
Mrs. Centlivre's works. One of the most remark- 
able women in the annals of dramatic literature, 
her name has been suffered to pass into compai-ative 
oblivion ; and her works — which deserve a pro- 
minent place amongst the British Classics — are 
not as popular as they deserve to be. The coarse 
novels and dramas of Mrs. Aphra Behn are well 



SUSANNA GENTLIVllE. 



known, where the name even of Susanna Centlivre 
has scarcely, if ever, been heard of. 

Both an actress and an authoress, she forms a 
fitting link between our "famous actresses" and 
our "hterary women." Her Hfe was full of inci- 
dent, from the time when she ran away from 
home, at fifteen years of age, to the day of her 
death, thirty years afterwards. 

The maiden name of Susanna Centlivre was 
Freeman, and her father is supposed to have been 
a respectable farmer living in the north of Ireland, 
and originally of English extraction. Her mother 
died when she was yet very young, and her father, 
manying again, placed over her a stepmother 
who treated her with such harshness that at 
length the girl, unable to bear the tyranny any 
longer, determined to run away from home. She 
was but fifteen at this time, and the genius, which 
afterwards so brilliantly displayed itself, urged 
her to try and get to London, there to seek her 
fortune upon the stage. How she got from Ireland 
to England must ever remain a mystery ; but she 
has herself said that upon arriving upon English 
soil — probably at Bristol, Liverpool, or Milford — she 
had so little money in her pocket that she found 
she must walk to London. However physical 
fatigue at length conquered her brave spirit, and 
she sat down by the wayside and cried bitterly. 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



Like the baililfs daughter of Ishngton, who set 
out in search of " the squire's son," Susanna 
Freeman 

" Sat Iier down on a mossy bank, 
And a youth he came riding by." 

As our heroine sat there weeping, a veritable 
" squire's son" came riding by. lie was young 
and imyjressionable, and tlie sight of beauty in 
distress aroused all his chivalry. He stopped and 
inquired the cause of her tears, and the weary 
girl, glad to hear a friendly voice, told him her 
tale of woe. What conversation followed we 
know not, save that he told her that his name 
was Anthony Hammond,* and that if she cared 
to come and stay with him for awhile at the 
University of Cambridge — where he was then 
staying — that he would veiy willingly take her 
along with him. 

Susanna says she demurred at first upon hear- 
ing this proposal ; at all events she eventually went 
with Mr. Hammond. But an insuperable dilficulty 
now presented itself Ahna 3fate7\ although a 
lady, had a prejudice against allowing any of her 
sex within the sacred precincts of her college. 
The young people, therefore, were obliged to have 
recourse to a stratagem. Taking her to a village 



* Subsequently a well-known literary man. 



SUSANNA CENTLIVBE. 



near Cambridge, Mr. Hammond had his fair com- 
panion supplied with a suit of boy's clothes, and 
in this attire he took her with him to live at the 
University, as his " Cousin Jack." At Cambridge 
she read and studied everything that came in her 
way, and there, probably, laid the foundation of 
those graces of style which characterised her works 
of later years. 

For some months Susanna Freeman contmued 
at the University, and then, fearing her sex would 
be discovered, Mr. Hammond persuaded her to go 
to London. He gave her a considerable sum of 
money, and a letter of recommendation to a gen- 
tlewoman of his acquaintance, promising to follow 
her and to marry her. 

Which of them broke the contract can never be 
known ; but in about a year after we hear of our 
heroine's marriage to Mr. Fox, the nephew of Sir 
Stephen Fox. This gentleman died about a year 
after the marriage, leaving his wife a young widow 
of between seventeen and eighteen. Her worldly 
affairs were not very flourishing either, for her 
youthful husband had married her agamst the 
consent of his family, who would not therefore 
do anything for the young widow. Agaui she 
married, this time an officer in the army, 
named Carrol ; but he having been killed in a 
duel about a year and a hidf after their mar- 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



riage, she had the misfortune to be again left 
destitute. 

It was in this emergency that the idea of writing 
for the stage occurred to her. Her first dramatic 
piece was a tragedy, entitled "The Perjured 
Husband," which she produced in 1700. It 
abounds in good writing, but did not long keep 
the stage. Amongst her eighteen other dramatic 
pieces we only find one other attempt at tragedy, 
the natural vivacity of her temperament leading 
her more into the paths of comedy. It was about 
this time also that she went on the boards. Her 
success does not appear to have been very great, 
as she never played in any but small provincial 
theatres. She did not, however, long remain upon 
the stage, for when playing at Windsor, where the 
Court then was, Mr. Joseph Centhvre, Her Ma- 
jesty's "yeoman of the mouth" — i.e., the royal 
cook — fell in love with her, and married her. 

Mrs. Centlivre was now in easy circumstances. 
Pier husband took a hoiise for her in Spring 
Gardens, near Charing Cross, and here she devoted 
herself to literature and to the society of some of 
the most distinguished men of learning of the day. 
Her own wit and attractiveness contributed in no 
small degree to draw around her a brilliant circle, 
wherein might constantly be seen Sir Ptichard 
Steele, Howe, Budgell, Fai^quhar, and others 



SUSANNA CENTLIVBE. 



equally well known, and equally famous in the 
social and literary worlds. 

It is dillicult to give anything approaching to a 
correct estimate of Mrs. Centlivre's merits as a 
dramatist. Mrs. Aphra Belin, if more coarse, is 
also more sparkhng in her dialogue. But then 
Mrs. Centlivre bears away the palm in the province 
of plot, and the busy, unflagging way in which, 
through the sheer use of incident, she keeps the 
interest up to the mark ; so that, if plot and well- 
defined character be the very essence of comedy > 
then the bays must be awarded to Mrs, Centlivre. 
Her best comedy is considered to be "A Bold 
Stroke for a Wife." Wilkes, the actor, read it, 
and a|)proved of it ; but such was the prejudice 
against a woman's writing in that age, that when 
lie licjird it cnuuiated ffom the pen of Mrs. Cent- 
livre, he said that if that got wind amongst the 
audience, that not only her play would he damned, 
but she herself he damned for writing it. 

As a self-cultivated genius, it is astonishing to 
find the ti^aces of so much learning and extensive 
reading of which many of her pieces bear internal 
evidence. She has drawn largely upon French, 
Dutch, and Spanish hterature ; and a better 
idea of her absolute conception of the idiosyn- 
crasies of the various nations cannot be better 
shown than by quoting an extract from her own 



10 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

preface to her brilliant comedy of " Love's Con- 
trivance." 

" Writing is a hind of Lottery in this jicMe Age" 
she writes, " and Dependence on the Stage as pre- 
carious as the Cast of a Die ; the Chance may turn 
up, and a Man may lorite to please the Toivn, but 
*tis uncertain, since we see our best Authors sometimes 
fail. The Criticks cavil most about Decorums, and 
cry up Aristotle's Bides as the most essential part 
of the Play. I own they are in the rig] it of it, yet I 
dare venture a Wager they'll never persuade the 
Town to be of their Opinion, which relishes nothing so 
well as Humour lightly tost up loith Wit, and drest 
with Modesty and Air. And I believe Mr. E-icn 
will own, he got more by the Trip to the Jubilee, 
with all its Irregularities, than by the most iiniform 
Piece the Stage could boast of e'er since. I do not 
say this by way of condemning the Unity of Time, 
Place, and Action ; quite contrary, for I think them 
the Greatest Beauties of a Dramatic Poem ; but 
since the other way of loriting pleases fidl as well, 
and gives the Poet a larger Scope of Fancy, and 
with less Trouble, Care, and Pains serves his and 
the Player's End, why should a Man torture and 
wrack his Brain for what ivill be no Advantage to 
him. This., I dare engage, that the Town will neer 
be entertained with Plays according to the Method of 
the Ancients, till they exclude this Innovation of Wit 



SUSANNA GENTLIVBE. 11 

a?id Humour, which yet I see no likelihood of doing. 
The following Poem I think has nothing can disoblige 
the nicest ear ; and thd I did not observe the Rules 
of Djiama, / took pecidiar Care to dress my Thoughts 
in such a Modest Stile that it might not give Offence 
to any. Some Scenes., I confess., are partly taken 
from MoLiERE, and I dare be bold to say it has not 
suffered in the Translation. I thought ^em. pretty in 
the Fi^ench., and could not help believing they would 
divert in an English Dress. The French have that 
light airiness in their Temper., that the least Glimp)se 
of Wit sets them a-laughing, when it would not make 
us so much as smile ; so that when I felt the siile too 
poor., I endeavoured to give it a Turn ; for whoever 
borrows from tJiem, must take care to touch the 
Colours with an English Pencil., and form the piece 
according to our Manners." 

If Mrs. Centlivre, therefore, was under obliga- 
tions to any former dramatist for hints, she had 
tlie candour to acknowledge it. Richard Brinsley 
Slieridan, the writer of " The School for Scandal," 
the best comedy in the English language, was a 
plagiarist, but he never acknowledged the 
sources whence he got the ideas which he built 
upon afterwards. There are critics who say, 
that had not the characters of Blifdl and Tom 
Jones been conceived by Fielding, we never 
should have had Joseph and Charles Surface; 



12 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

although his friend and partial critic, Thomas 
Moore, says : — 

" Next to creation, the reproduction in a new 
and more perfect form, of materials already exist- 
ing, or the full development of the thoughts that 
had but half blown in the hands of others, are the 
noblest miracles for whicli we look at the hands of 
genius. It is not my intention, therefore, to 
defend Mr. Sheridan from this kind of plagiarism, 
of which he was guilty in common with tlie rest 
of his fellow-descendants from Prometheus, who 
all steal the spark wherever they can find it. 
But the instances just alleged of his obligations to 
others are too questionable and trivial to be taken 
into any serious account." 

But these critics have quite overlooked 
Sheridan's obligations to Mrs. Centlivre. It is 
acknowledged that Sheridan's farce of " The 
Behearsal" was suggested and founded upon an 
old play of the same name by the witty Duke of 
Buckingham. Slieridan was a distinguislied 
scholar, well read too in all the dramatic literature 
of his own and former days ; so that it is only 
natural that a genius so observant of everything 
should be struck by excellences in many of the old 
plays, and strive to present them to the world in 
a more polished and finished form. Thus, "The 
Bivals" and Mrs. Centlivre's comedy of " A Bold 



SUSANNA GENTLIVEE. 13 

Stroke for a Wife" have many points in common. 
" The Platonick Lady," one of the most brilliant 
comedies in the English language, written by Mrs. 
Centlivre, has a chara,cter in it that at once 
suggests the country girl who marries the rich Sir 
Peter Teazle, comes up to town, and plunges into 
all the dissipations of fashionable life. Mrs. Cent- 
livre's Mrs. Boiody is a widow who comes up to 
London to learn the ways of gentlefolks. She is 
atrociously vulgar, and it is chiefly the remarks 
made about her that bear such a strong resem- 
blance to similar remarks made by Sir Peter to 
Lady Teazle, and by his friends concerning her. 
That Sheridan was influenced by Mrs. Centlivre 's 
writings there can be very little doubt : he who 
runs may read, and space alone excludes illustra- 
tive passages from the writings of each. Congreve 
was also laid under contribution for " The School 
for Scandal." Lady Frotlis verses on her footman 
undoubtedly suggested the doggerel of Sir Ben- 
jam in Ba ckh ite : — 

Sir Bcnj. Bac.lchitp.. — Btit, ladies, you sliould bo acquainted with 
the circumstances. You must know, that one day last week, as 
Lady Betty Curricle was taking the dust in Hyde Park, in a sort of 
duodecimo ]>hacton, she desired mo to write some verses on her 
ponies, upon wliicli I took out my pocket-book, and in one moment 
produced the following : — 

Sure never Avere seen two such beautiful ponies, 
Other horses are downs, but these macaronies ; 
To give thom this title I'm sure can't be wrong, 
Their legs are so slim, and their tails are so long. 



14 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



Some of Mrs. Centlivre's prologues and epilogues 
are amongst the very best specimens of lier 
writings. She was fortunate too in the actresses 
and actors chosen to deliver them. Some years 
later her plays became more familiarly known 
upon the Dublin stage. Woodward admired her 
writings very much, and Miss Mackhn was one of 
their best interpreters. 

The names and dates of Mrs. Centlivre's con- 



tributions to dramatic literature ar 



1. 



e as follow : — 



Perjured Husband . . 

2. Beau's Duel .... 

3. Love's Contrivance . 

4. Stolen Heiress . . 

5. Gamester 

6. Basset Table .... 

7. Love at a Venture . 

8. Platonic Lady . . . 

9. Busy Body .... 

10. Man's Bewitched . . 

11. A Bickerstaff's Burying 

12. Marplot 

13. Perplex 'd Lovers 

14. Wonder a Woman Keeps a 

Secret 

15. Gotham Election . . 

16. Wife Well Managed . 

17. Cruel Gift .... 

18. A Bold Stroke for a Wife 

19. Artifice , 



1700 

1702 

1703 

1703 

1705 

1700 

170(3 

1707 

1709 

1710 

No date. 

1711 

1712 

1714 
1715 
1715 
1717 
1718 
1721 



SUSANNA GENTLIVBE. 15 

Mrs. Centlivre undoubtedly takes tlie lead of all 
female writers for the stage. Mrs. Aphra Behn is 
tlio only one worthy to be j)ut in competition with 
lier, and she has as far failed in the true essentials 
of comedy as Mrs. Centhvi^e has grasped them. 
The latter excels in plot and character — the 
sold and body of comedy ; the former in lan- 
guage, which may be regarded as merely the 
outward dress ; and Mrs. Behn dazzles more 
through her audaciousness than from there being 
any real pith in her dialogues. 

Mrs. Centlivre 's last marriage was a very happy 
one. She died at her house in Spring Gardens, 
Charing Cross, on the first of December, 1722, 
aged forty-five years, and was buried in the parish 
church of Saint Martin's-in-the-Fields. 




THE HONOUEABLE MRS. MONK. 




Died, a.d. 1715. 

AHY, the second daiigliter of Tlobert, second 
Viscount Molesworth, was tlie wife of 
George Monk, Esq., of Stephen's Green, 
Dubhn. There is no record of the year either in 
which this lady was born, nor of the year of her mar- 
riage ; but as she left a son and two daughters, and 
died in 1715, we may conclude she was born about 
the middle of the latter half of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. Her thirst for knowledge early showed 
itself, and she is said to have pursued her studies 
under very disadvantageous circumstances. At 
that time it was not considered feminine for a 
woman to be possessed of much learning, and her 
family even tried to turn her from her favourite 
pursuits. But all to no purpose. Notwithstand- 
ing the opposition she met with, Mary Molesworth 
contrived to become a perfect mistress of the 
Latin, Italian, and Spanish tongues. During her 
lifetime her works were never published ; possibly 



THE HONOURABLE MBS. MONK. 17 

the want of sympathy which she experienced made 
her decide not to trouble any one with the children 
of her brain. The opj30sition which she met with is 
all the more remarkable as her father, Viscount 
Molesworth, was a man of considerable taste and 
learning. He had been for some years ambassador 
at the Court of Denmark, and, upon his return 
to Ireland, wrote a history of the state of politics 
in that country. This work was much thought of 
at the time, being unique of its kind, and was 
translated into several languages. lie also wrote 
an able address to the House of Commons con- 
cerning the encouragement of agriculture in 
Ireland ; and translated Franco Gallia, a Latin 
treatise, by Hottmann, giving an account of 
the "free state of France and other parts of 
Europe before the encroachments made on their 
liberties." 

Mrs. Monk's literary fame was posthumous. 
She left a large collection of poems and trans- 
lations in MS., and it is but just to her father to 
admit that in the preface to the published edition 
of her works lie does ample, though tardy, justice 
to the genius of his gifted daughter. " Marinda : 
Poems and Translations upon several occasions," is 
the title of this extremely rare book, which is 
dedicated to Her Royal Highness Caroline, Prin- 
cess of Wales, whose chief bedchamber woman 

VOL. II. c 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



was Charlotta Amelia, third daugliter of Viscount 
Molesworth, and younger sister of the deceased 
poetess. 

*' Most of these poems," says Lord Molesworth, 
in his dedicatory preface to Her Iloyal Highness, 
" are the product of the leisure hours of a young 
gentlewoman lately dead, who, in a remote country 
retu'ement, without any assistance but that of a 
good library, and without omitting the daily care 
due to a large family, not only perfectly acquired 
the several languages here made use of, but the 
good morals and principles contained in those 
books, so as to put them in practice, as well during 
her life and languishing sickness, as at the hour of 
her death ; in short, she died not only as a Christian 
but a Roman Lady, and so became at once the 
object of the Grief and Comfort of her relations. 
As much as I am obliged to be sparing in com- 
mendino; what belono-s to me, I cannot forbear 
thinking some of these circumstances uncommon 
enough to be taken notice of : I loved her more 
because she deserved it than because she was riiine, 
and I cannot do .greater honour to her memory 
than by consecrating her hdiours, or rather her 
diversion, to your Ixoyal Highness, as we found 
most of them in her scritoire after her death, 
written with her own liand ; little expecting, and 
as little desiring the publick should have any 



THE HONOURABLE MBS. MONK. 19 

opportunity either of applauding or condemning 
them." 

Mrs. Monk's poems and translations have in 
tliem tlie spirit and ring of true poetry. They 
also possess no inconsiderable humour ; and her 
0}iigrams, although clever, witty, and incisive, are, 
unfortunately, too free in expression to bear 
repetition in the present day. But it must be 
borne in mind that such was very much the 
fasliion of the time, Wycherley's plays and the 
novels of Mrs. Aphra Behn, doubtless, represent- 
ing whatever current literature she may have been 
acquainted with. 

One of the best pieces in this collection is 
" Bunawny Love," a. free translation from Tasso. 
Veiuis lias lost Cu})id, and offers the following 
reward for his apprehension : — 

And lie tliat finds tlie boy sball have 
The sweetest kiss I ever gave : 
Bat he that brings him to my arms, 
Shall master be of all my charms. 

Tlie other chief contents of the volume 
are — 

"An Eclogue m return to a Tale sent by a 
Friend." This is one of the most graceful of any of 
Mrs. Monk's original poems. It is distinguished 
by delicate play of fancy, true poetic feeling, 
together with chaste and smoothly-flowuig diction. 

c 2 



'20 ILLUSTRIOUS IltlSinVOMEK 

"The Masque of the Virtues against Love," 
From Guarini. 

"Human Frailty." 

Many pieces from Guarina and Tasso, 

" Dialogue between Lucinda and Strephon, on 
a Butterfly that revived before the Fire, and 
afterwards flew into it and was burnt." 

"Ode on the late Queen's Birthday." 

" On sight of the present Empress of Ger- 
many." 

"An Epistle to Marinda," which commences 
thus : — 

A just applatiae and an immortal name, 

Is tlie true object of the poet's aim ; 

In quest of this they boklly quit the shore, 

And dangerous seas and unknown lands explore. 

In the whole plan their interest has no share, 

The goods of fortune are beneath their care ; 

They on the smolce of i:)ubHclc incense live, 

Look down on wealth, and think it mean to thrive. 

The epitaphs composed by Mrs. Monk are 
amongst the happiest efforts of lier genius, and 
some of them, written upon liberal-minded ladies, 
possess wit which would not have disgraced 
Swift. Concerning Mrs. Monk's married life we 
have no details whatever, but the following lines 
written by her on her deathbed, in Bath, whither 
she had gone for her health, to her husband, tend 
to the conclusion that her union was a happy 
one : — 



THE HONOURABLE MES. MONK. 21 

Thon, who dost all my worldly tliouglits employ, 
Thou pleasing sovirce of all my earthly joy; 
Thou tend'rest husltaud, and best earthly friend, 
To thee this fii-st, this last adieu, I send. 
At length the conqu'ror Death asserts his right, 
And will for ever vail me from thy sight. 
He W008 me to him with a cheerful grace, , 

And not one terror clouds his meagre face. 
ITc promises a lasting rest from pain, 
Aud shows that all life's fleeting joys are vain ; 
The eternal scenes of Heaven he sets in view, 
Aud tells me that no other joys are true. 
But Jjove, fond love, would yet resist his power; 
Would fain awhile defer the parting hour ; 
He brings thy mourning image to my eyes. 
And would obstruct my journey to the skies. 
But say, thou dearest, thou unwearied friend ; 
Say, should'st thou grieve to see my sorrows end ? 
Thou know'st a painful i)ilgrimage I've past ; 
And should'st thou grieve that rest is come at last ? 
Rather rejoice to see me shake off life. 
And die as I have lived — thy faitliful wife. 

Mrs. Monk died in 1715, and left a son, Henry- 
8tanley, who subsequently became Surveyor- 
General to the Customs, and two daughters, 
Tlie elder one, Sarah, was the authoress of some 
])oetical pieces, which, however, met with the 
same posthumous recognition as those of her 
mother, inasmuch as that they were not published 
during her lifetime. Her grandfather collected 
them, and gave them to the world under the 
title of "Poems by Miranda." The very best of 
them are far below the standard of any written 
by her more gifted mother. 



CONSTANTIA GRIERSOK 




Born, a.d. 1707. Died, a.d. 1733. 

N a luimbler rank of life than the subject 
of the foregoing memoir, but superior in 
the ranks of genius, the name of Con- 
stantia Grierson is one of the brightest and most 
illustrious upon the bead-roll of Irish female 
biography. She was born in the city of Kilkenny, 
in the year 1707. Her p;u-ents were resi)ectable 
people, evidently with ideas somewhat in advance 
of their age ; for seeing their little daughter early 
evince an aptitude for study, they furthered her 
desires by every means that lay in their power. 
Her father sought for advice in the matter, and, 
although his circumstances were narrow, he 
endeavoured to supply her with books suited, as 
he had been told, to the capacity of such a child. 
But he soon found that her abilities were not to be 
meted by her years ; they flew beyond tliem. It 
was observed that her genius and inclination, 
aided by that commonplace but indispensable 
quality — industry — surmounted all difficulties, and, 



CONSTANTIA GBIEBSON. 23 

without the aid of a master, did not alone taste, 
but drink deep draughts of the Pierian spring. 

At a very early age, Constantia Grierson was 
[)ronounced by competent judges to be a perfect 
mistress of the Greek and lloman tongues. This 
knowledge she acquired entirely through her own 
extraordinary perseverance, never having had any 
tuition up to tliat time in any of the branches of 
learning in which she excelled. History, divinity, 
phLloso]:)hy, and mathematics were also studied by 
her with much success ; and, in order that she 
might the better perfect herself in these studies, 
she came on a visit to Dublin, so as to obtain 
instruction in her favourite pursuits. 

Shortly after her arrival in the Irish metro- 
polis she made the acquaintance of George 
Grierson, one of the cliief printers in that city. 
He possessed an excellent library, to which he 
gladly gave her free access. From admiring the 
genius of the earnest young student he became 
sensible of her cliarms and worth as a woman, 
proposed to her, and married her. 

Constantia Grierson was of much service to her 
husband in his business. He had the monopoly 
of Bible-printing in Ireland, and his wife's rare 
classical attainments were of much value to him. 
She wrote " An Abridgment of the History of 
Engla,nd," which he printed, but which did not 



24 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

much enhance her literary reputation. Many 
poems, epigrams, and occasional pieces flowed from 
her facile pen — written in Latin, Greek, or English ; 
but as they did not come up to her standai'd of 
excellence, she burnt them all before her death. 
None of her poems have been preserved, save a few 
wliich she addressed to various friends, notably to 
Mrs. Barber, and which are too personal to be 
quoted as they coidd not possess any interest for the 
general reader ; and, on the other hand, it would be 
unfair to give them as specimens of Mrs. Grierson's 
poetical abilities. Just before she was married, 
she addressed some lines to her intended husband. 
They are as follows : — 

ON THE ART OF PRINTING. 
Hail mystic art, which men hko angels taught 
To speak to eyes, and paint embody'd thought 1 
The deaf and dumb, blest skill, reliev'd by thee. 
We make one sense perform the task of three. 
We see, we hear, we touch the head and heart. 
And take or give what each but yields in part ; 
With the hard laws of distance we dispense. 
And without sound, apart commune in sense ; 
View, though confin'd, nay ! rule this earthly ball. 
And travel o'er the wide extended All 1 
Dead letters thus with living notions fraught 
Prove to the soul the telescope of thought. 
To mortal life immortal honour give ; 
And bid all deeds and titles last and live. 
In scanty life — Eternity we taste, 
View the first ages and inform the last ; 
Arts, history, laws— we purchase with a look. 
And keep, like fate, all nature in a book. 



C0N8TANTIA GRIEBSON. '■^-y 

The chief monuments of her erudition which 
Mrs. Grierson has left behind her are her un- 
rivalled translations of Tacitus and Terence. 
Amongst classical scholars they are known and 
recognised as the " Dublin editions." Lord Carteret 
was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the time, and 
to him Mrs. Grierson dedicated Tacitus. The 
Terence she dedicated to his son, accompanying it 
by a Greek epigram. This nobleman was himself 
an accomplished scholar, capable of appreciating 
Mrs. Grierson's genius and attainments ; and as a 
graceful way of showing his admiration and esteem 
for her character and abilities, he procured for her 
husband the patent of King's Prmter in Ireland, 
and to distinp^uish and reward her uncommon 
merit, he had her life inserted in it. 

Undoubtedly a woman of surpassing genius, yet 
much was due to her extraordinary perseverance 
and powers of application. Amidst her literary 
labours — which must Iiave been very continuous, 
considering all slie accomphshed during her short 
life — she faithfully performed her duty as a wife 
and a mother. Her contemporaries say she was 
singularly without vanity, and most diffident con- 
cerning her own abilities. Ballard says of her : — 

" As her learning and abilities raised her above 
her own sex, so they left her no room to envy any; 
on tlie contrary, her delight was to see other's 



26 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

excell : she was always ready to advise and direct 
those who applied to her ; and was herself wilUng 
to be advised. 

" So little did she value herself upon her un- 
common excellencies, that it has often recalled to 
my mind a fine reflection of a French author — 
thai great genius's should be superior to their own 
abilities y 

After a long and painful illness Mrs. Grierson 
died, in 1773, at the early age of twenty-seven 
years. 




CHARLOTTE BEOOKE. 



Died, a.d. 1793. 




FIE subjects of the preceding three memoirs 
— Susanna Centlivre, Hon. Mrs. Monk, 
and Constantia Grierson — were all women 
well skilled in the classical languages, and also 
in the more modern tongues of Europe. With 
the sole exception of French, we do not know if 
Charlotte Brooke was well acquainted with any 
modern language ; but any deficiency in this respect 
was fully compensated for by the vast and accu- 
rate knowledge which she possessed of the language 
and literature of the ancient Irish. 

Charlotte Brooke was the daughter of Henry 
Brooke, Esq., of Bantavan, Co. Cavan, Ireland, 
who married his cousin. Miss Meares — a lady for 
ever famous as being the only woman of whom 
i)ean Swift was afraid. Henry Brooke was a man 
of much culture and learning, and a graceful and 
brilliant writer. His Farmer s Letters— niter the 
style of the Drajners Letters — are models of style ; 
he was also the author of several plays, notably 



28 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

"Gustavus Vasa," and several novels and romances. 
He had a numerous family, but of all his children, 
only two survived — a son, Arthur, who died early 
in the service of the East India Company, and 
Charlotte, the subject of this memoir. 

She was literally the child of his old age, clever 
and intelligent beyond her years, and well fitted 
to be the companion of her accomplished father. 
He soon perceived her abilities, and spared no 
pains in striving to direct lier literaiy taste. Mr. 
Brooke was a man of genius, and from his constant 
society his daughter must undoubtedly have 
reaped many benefits. Moreover, he was a man 
of high moral character- — his works show tliis, 
their leading features being benevolence, patriot- 
ism almost to excess, and that ever- wakeful 
regard for rehgion and morality which dehghted 
to em^^loy itself in seizing or creating opjDortunities 
of advancing their cause. 

Brought up in such a school, and undei* tlie 
tuition of such a master, Charlotte Brooke com- 
menced her education under pleasant auspices. 
One of Mr. Brooke's biographers, referring to this, 
says : — " He had formed a plan for her education, 
with an unalterable determination to pursue it. 
In this plan he proposed to reject the severity of 
discipline, and to lead her mind insensibly to 
knowledge and exertion, by exciting her curiosity, 



GHAELOTTE BItOOKE. 29 

and directing it to useful objects. By this me- 
thod Miss Brooke's desire to learn became as 
eager as her parent's wish to teach ; and such 
were his talents of instruction, and her facility of 
retaining it, that in her fifth year she was able to 
read, distinctly and rapidly, any English book. 
He particularly attended at the same time to the 
cultivation of her memory, by making her learn 
and repeat select passages from the English poets. 
During this period, Miss Brooke's attention was 
almost equally divided between her books and a 
little garden, the cultivation and embellishment 
of which occupied all her leisure hours. Her 
fxculties necessarily gained strength by exercise ; 
and the sedulity of a fond parent was without 
intermission exerted to add to her stock of 
scientific attainments. He also taught her the 
rudiments of drawing, in which she afterwards 
excelled. The quick and early improvement 
which she made was an ample recompense for 
all the pains that had been taken with her. The 
accomplishments generally attained with labour, ex- 
{)ense, and waste of time, seemed with her the mere 
amusement of a few spare hours, and acquired 
with little expense or professional assistance." 

Amidst such associations Charlotte Brooke 
passed her childhood and early girlhood. Her 
father h;id resided nmch in London when a young 



30 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

man, moving in the best literary and social circles. 
When he returned to Ireland, he still kept up 
many of the friendships he had then formed, so 
that some years after, when he removed witli his 
family to Killyhegs, near Naas, County Kildare, he 
was often visited by tliese friends of his younger 
days. This society was of great advantage to 
Charlotte Brooke, who was at this time a clever 
young girl, as much admired for the graces of her 
person as of her mind. Moreover, slie was as 
modest and as unassuming as she was gifted ; and, 
although at this time she liad made many transla- 
tions of poems, and had also written some herself, 
yet such was her diffidence and mistrust of her own 
powers, tliat she destroyed them lather than nm 
the risk of their autliorship being discovered. 

During his residence at Killyhegs, Mr. Brooke 
composed some of his finest plays. When he lived 
in London, he had been the intimate friend of 
Garrick, who at once, with his customary shrewd- 
ness, had detected the unusual talent of the 
brilliant young Irishman. He had offered Mr. 
Brooke a shilling a line for everything he sliould 
write, but this the author had refused, not wishing 
to sell his talent. Afterwards, when the MS. 
of the " Earl of Essex" was complete, Mr. Brooke 
offered it to Garrick ; but the vain actor, who 
never forgave the least suspicion of a slight, 



GHABLOTTE BROOKE. 31 

refused it. The writer then sent it to Sheridan, 
who accepted it and brought it out at Smock 
Alley. It was afterwards represented at Drury 
Lane.* 

This was the most brilliant social period of 
Charlotte Brooke's life. Her father went to stay 
in Dublin for a couple of seasons, so that she had 
the advantage of association with all the most dis- 
tinguished persons in the brilliant Dublin society 
of that period. On the boards of the Dublin 
theatres were then to be found the best performers 
on the British stage. Garrick and Peg Woffing- 
ton were in the Irish metropolis at the time, and 
Charlotte Brooke was so carried away with admi- 
ration and enthusiasm that she gave her indulgent 
father no peace until he introduced her to them. 
Night after night she spent at the theatre, so 
completely was she carried away by her feelings. 
Her rage for witnessing dramatic representations 



* Sheridan was one day praising the language of the " Earl of 
Essex" in the hearing of Dr. Johnson. " Sir," said the great 
U'xicogra))her, "repeat for me what yon consider the finest line in 
the [day." Sheridan promptly dcelaimed — 

Who rule o'er freemen, should themselves he free. 

" This mode of reasoning," replied the Doctor, sarcastically, " is 
conclusive in such a degree, that it will lose nothing of its force, 
even though we should apply it to a more familiar subject, as 
follows — 

Wlio drives fat oxen, 8h;>uld himself be fat." 



3^. ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN: 

Swept all before it ; she neglected her former 
studious pursuits — reading, drawing, everything 
was laid aside; she could think of nothing but 
the heroes and heroines of the hour. This passion 
almost amounted to delirium, and was a source of 
much concern to her father. She wrote a tragedy, 
called "Belisarius," which was never acted; but 
whether it was during this period of theatrical 
infatuation or not, we have no means of ascertain- 
ing.* Remonstrance was useless, therefore her 
father, in despair, left Dublin, at mucli inconve- 
nience to himself, and took his daughter back to 
the country. 

Her mother had now fallen into ill-health, and 
Charlotte Brooke, ever an affectionate and dutiful 
daughter, attended her assiduously during her long 
and painful illness. A reaction took place in her 
mind, and the girl who but a few montlis before 
would have sacrificed everytliing to witness a repre- 
sentation of one of her favourite plays, now made 
the resolution — which she kept — never to enter a 
playhouse again. It is very likely that her 
mother's wishes had somethinG^ to do with her 



* " Belisarius," Trag. A scene from a MS. play under tluH 
title was printed in r/<e OracZe (daily paper), Oct. 17, 1795. We 
know tliat Miss Brooke (translator of lieliques of Irish Poetry) 
wrote a tragedy under this title, the MS. of which, it is feared, in 
lost. Query, whether the above extract was made from Miss B.'s 
play P — Vide " Biographia Dramatica," vol. ii. p. 56. 



GHABLOTTE BROOKE. 33 

coming to this decision ; for Mrs. Brooke was a 
rigid Methodist, and altliough she admired her 
liusband's genius, often regretted that it led him 
to \v]"ite for the stage, and to associate with actors 
and actresies. 

Charlotte Brooke's life now passed very un- 
eventfully for a good many years. Her mother's 
death was a serious blow to her father. They had 
been married for nearly hfty years, and Mr. 
Brooke, although he did not sympathise with his 
wife u]ion many ])oints, chiefly relating to religion, 
was sincerely attached to her. In a few years his 
own health began to give way, and grief, years, and 
over-study soon reduced him to a state of com- 
plete imbecility. His daughter was unremitting 
in her affectionate solicitude. Mr. Brooke lived 
for a few years in this melancholy condition, and 
tlien died peacefully on the lOtli of October, 
1783. 

Father, mother, and brother dead, Charlotte 
Brooke now found herself very much alone in the 
world, and with a very slender income. She was 
long past girlhood, and looked even older tlian she 
really was, from the anxious years of sick-nursing 
which she had gone through. Her spirits were 
quite broken, and her former literary occupations 
seemed to have lost all charm for her. Whilst in 
til is state she attracted the notice of a Mr. Walker, 

vol.. II, D 



31 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

an old friend of her father, and the author of 
"Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards," This 
gentleman was quite aware of Miss Brooke's 
correct knowledge of tlie Irish language, and at 
his suggestion she undertook the translation 
of an Irish monody, to be inserted in tlie 
afore-mentioned work, upon which he was then 
engaged. 

This was Miss Brooke's first published work : 
it stands unrivalled as a translation, from the 
admirable manner in which the touching pathos 
and simplicity of the original are preserved. Mr. 
Walker prefaced the poem with the following 
notice : — " For the benefit of the English reader, I 
shall here give an elegant paraphi-ase of this 
monody, by a young lady whose name I am 
enjoined to conceal ; witli the modesty ever 
attendant upon true merit, and with the sweet 
timidity natural to her sex, she shrinks from the 
public eye." 

CAROLAN'S MONODY ON THE DEATH OF 
MATIY MACGUIllE. 

Were mine the choice of intcllecLual fame, 

Ol'sjiell'nl Sony, ami chjquciice ilivhie, 
Paiuting'a sweet power, philosophy'^ pure flame, 

Aud Homer's lyre, and Ossiau's harp were mine ; 
The splendid arts of lu-in, Greece, and Rome, 

In Mary lost, would lose their wonted grace. 
All would I give to snatch her from the tomb, 

Again to fold her in my fond embrace. 



CHARLOTTE BROOKE. 35 

Desponding, sick, exhausted with my grief, 

Awhile the founts of sorrow cease to flow, 
In vain — I rest not— slccj) brings no relief, 

Cheerless, companion less, I wake to woe. 
Nor birth, nor beauty, shall again allure. 

Nor fortune win me to another bride ; 
Alone I'll wander, and alone endure, 

Till death restore me to my dear one's side. 

Once every thought and every scene was gay, 

Friendo, mirth, and music all my hours employ'd — 
Now doom'd to mourn my last sad years away, 

M}' life a solitude ! my heart a void ! 
Alas, the change! tlie change ag;iin no more! 

For every comfort is with Mary fled; 
Till ceaseless anguish shall her loss deplore, 

Till age and sorrow join me with the dead. 

Adieu, each gift of nature, and of art. 

That erst adorn'd me in life's early prime! 
The cloudless temjier, and the social heart. 

The soul ethereal, and the flight sublime ! 
niiy loss, my Mary, chasM them from my breast; 

Thy sweetness cheers, thy judgment aids no more ; 
The muse doserl.; a heart with grief opprest — 

And lost is every joy that charmed before. 

It slioiild be borne in mind that Miss Brooke 
commenced the study of the Irish language ex- 
clusively from books ; but then the famous 
Clenard began his acquisition of the x4.rabic 
language by reading in an Arabic version of the 
Bible those proper names which lie might suppose 
to be the same in the Arabic as ifi the Hebrew, 
and thus labouring' to distinofuish the forms and 
sounds of the different characters in which the 
names were exprccjised in the unknown language. 

D 2 



38 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

The famous Sir William Jones was much more 
Indebted to his own ardent industry and genius, 
than to any aid of instructors, for the success with 
which he conquered all the difficulties of the most 
abstruse Oriental learnijig. Miss Brooke was no 
less boldly industrious, and therefore not less 
fortunate in her search after knowledire. 

In the year 1787, yielding to the earnest solici- 
tations of her friends, Charlotte Brooke resolved 
to try and conquer her constitutional timidity, 
and to undertake the work which has made her 
name famous wherever the Irish race is to be 
found. " The Beliques of Irish Poetry" is a sub- 
lime and lasting monument of her genius. To 
investigate the meagre literary remains of other 
times, couched in an almost obsolete language, 
of which few have been hardy and inqivisitive 
enough to attempt the acquisition — to elucidate 
these writinixs and to clothe them in the vesture 
of modern rhyme, are achievements that might 
well have staggered any literary kniglit-cujaiit. 
Yet Charlotte Brooke has accomplished all this, 
and her marvellously intimate acquaintance with 
the language of the ancient Irish may be gathered 
from the fact that her book was completed in one 
year from the time when she commenced it. She 
began her work by translating such Irish ballads 
and songs as she could collect amongst her friends, 



GUABLOTTE BROOKE. 37 

afterwards selecting tlie warlike and heroic odes 
wliicli she considered the best specimens of ancient 
Irish poetry. Scarcely any true conception can 
be formed of the arduous nature of her task. A 
chief difficulty she had to contend against was the 
repetition of thought, plainly observable in the 
English versions, but not perceived in the original 
Irish, so great is the variety of expression peculiar 
to that language. The number of synonyms in 
which it abounds enables it, perhaps beyond any 
other tongue, to repeat tlie same thought con- 
tinually without wearying the fancy or grating 
upon the ear. As an example of this, we may 
mention that there are upM^ards of forty names to 
express a shij) in the Irish language, and nearly 
an equal number for a house. 

"It is really astonishing," says Miss Brooke, in 
the preface to " Ileliques of Irish Poetry," " of 
what varied and comprehensive powers this 
neglected language is possessed. In the pathetic 
it breathes the most beautiful and affecting sim- 
pUcity, and in the bolder species of composition it 
is distinguished by a force of expression, a sublime 
dignity, and rapid energy, which it is scarcely 
possible for any translation to convey, as it some- 
times fills tlie mind with ideas altogether new, 
and wlii{;li, perliaps, no modern language is 
entirely prepared to express. One compound 



38 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

epithet must often be translated by two lines of 
English verse, and, on such occasions, much of tlie 
l>eauty is necessarily lost, the force ap.d effect of 
the thought being weakened by too slow an intro- 
duction on the mind, just as that light which 
dazzles when flasliing swiftly on the eye will be 
gazed at with indifference if let in by degrees." 

Towards the conclusion of her prefatory 
remarks. Miss Brooke says truly : — " As yet we 
are too little known to our noble neighbour of 
Britain ; were we better acquainted we should 
be better friends. The Britisli muse is not yet 
informed that she has an elder sister in this isle ; 
let us then introduce them to each other ! To- 
gether let us walk them abroad from their bowers, 
sweet ambassadresses of cordial union between two 
countries that seem formed by nature to be joined 
by every bond of interest and of amity. Let 
T,liem entreat of Britain to cultivate a nearer 
acquaintance with her neighbouring isle. Let 
ih3m conciliate for us her esteem, and her affec- 
tion will follow of course. Let them tell liei* that 
the portion of her blood which flows in our veins 
is rather ennobled than disgraced by the mingling 
tides that descended from our heroic ancestors !" 

With the exception of "Moore's L-ish Melodies," 
which owe their popularity chiefly to their musical 
accompaniments, it is much to be regretted that 



GHABLOTTE BROOKE. 39 

the poetical treasures of the Irish nation are com- 
paratively unknown. No other people possesses 
in a higher degree the essentials for the produc- 
tion of lyrical poetry. Tlie Celtic temperament 
and intellect, sensuous yet pure ; graceful, im- 
patient, and versatile, but with a want of deep 
mental grasp, is peculiarly suited to the flux and 
reflux of lyrical emotion. Moreover, the abundant 
use of metaphor, exquisite simplicity of expression 
and picturesque epithets, combine to give a poetical 
tone to the language. " If you plead for your 
life, plead in Irish," snys the old adage, bearing 
testimony to its persuasive powers. With all 
these striking qualifications it would indeed be 
wonderful if tlio jioetry of ancient Ireland had not 
attained a high degree of excellence. Poetry was 
the darling science of the ancient Irish, and nothing 
among them was left unsung. They introduced 
poetry into every scene, and suited it to every 
occasion. The bards followed their chieftains to 
battle, and with their heroic strains incited the 
kerns and galloglasses to the fight, like the Euro- 
pean troubadours of later days, and the Scalds of 
Scandinavia.* For fiery declamation and liead- 

* Amongst the ancient Celtic races the office of bard was con- 
sidered especially sacred, and second only in dignity to that of the 
king. The person of the bard was rcgai-ded with peculiar sanctity, 
ai\d history furnishes but a single instance i^f violence towards one 
of their caste. At the battle of Cruachan, ilie songs of the bard of 



40 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

long torrent of eloquence, the War Odes of the 
ancient Irish stand unrivalled in the literature of 
any nation in the world. The following extract 
from Miss Brooke's translation of the "War Ode, 

TO OSGUR, THE SoN OF OlSIN, IN THE FRONT OF 

THE Battle of Gabhra," will illustrate this : — 

Resistless as the spirit of the night, 
In storms and terrors drest, 
"Withering the force of every hostile breast, 
Rush on the ranks of fight ! 
Youth of fierce deeds, and noble soul ! 
Rend — scatter ^^ ide the foe ! 
Swift forward rush, and lay the waving pride 
Of yon high ensigns low ! 
Thine be the battle — thine the sway ! 
On — on to Gairbi'e hew thy conquering way. 
And let thy deathful arm dash safety from his side ! 
As the proud wave, on whose broad back 
The storm its burden heaves. 
Drives on the scattered wreck 
Its ruin leaves ; 
So let thy sweeping progress roll 
Fierce, resistless, rapid, strong, 
Pour, like the billow of the Hood, o'ervvhelming might along ! 

No language has ever been more adapted for the 
true and full expression of lyrical ebb and flow 
than has the ancient — and, indeed, it may be said, 
modern — Irish tongue. The poetry of many of 



the Ard-rigli, or Monarch of all Ireland, so enraged the King of 
Leinster, that he, stung by the sarcasms heaped upon him, rushed 
in among the enemy and slew the minstrel. Tlie deed was held in 
Buch abhorrence that the nation unanimously gave him the name 
of Oln-saleah, or " dishonourable head." Many of his descendants 
yet exist, the name being modernised Kinselayh. 



CHARLOTTE BROOKE. 41 

the ancient Celtic songs is almost ready-made 
music, without the aid of a tune. Moreover, the 
language is admirahlj constituted for the forma- 
tion of word-pictures ; and in the few songs which 
she gives in her " lleliques of Irish Poetry," Miss 
Brooke has faithfully preserved this peculiarity. 
For instance, what can be more simple, at the same 
time more perfect in picturesqueness and beauty, 
than the folio vvino^ sentiment of one of these 
songs : — A forsaken maid compares her heart to a 
burning coal, bruised black ; thus retaining the 
heat that consumed, while it loses the light that 
had cheered it. The songs abound in such vivid 
word-pictures ; and truly of Miss Brooke it may 
be said tliat no one has done more for the poetry 
of her native land. 

To excel in epistolary writing is no mean ac- 
complishment, and Miss Brooke added this to her 
many other acquirements. She was a charming 
letter-writer, and her correspondence with her 

life-long and intimate friend, Miss T , is as 

remarkable for the variety of subjects discussed as 
for the admirable style in which it is written. 
Speaking upon the suh^ect of self-deiiial, she writes 
thus : — 

" I agree with you perfectly as to what you say 
respecting the insufficiency of abstinence for its 
own sake. Nevertheless, I am assured that he 



■42 ILLUSTBIOUS IltlSHWOMEN. 



who will not 0/ himself take np crosses, now and 
then, by way of practice, will never be able to bear 
them when they are laid upon him. Observe, I 
include not fasting in abstir.ence. Tt is generally 
injurious to health, and when it is so, becomes 
sinful. But I mean self-denial — the sj)irit of 
sacrifice, which is the spirit of love. In general, the 
more we endure for a human friend, tlie more they 
engage our affections. And if endurance in tliis 
instance is creative of affection, affection is also 
creative of endurance ; they mutually act upon 
and stimulate each other. We are even sometimes 
rejoiced in an opportunity of proving our love, by 
the sacrifices we are read}' to make. No wonder 
then that we are told to * rejoice when we are 
accounted worthy to suffer' for our God! Self- 
denial is also useful, and even necessary, in 
another point of view — to bring into subjection 
the 'outer man.' To make the vassal know his 
Lord. To keep those lul)bard a,ppetites and pas- 
sions of ours in dvie subordination, and not suffer 
them, as they are perpetually inclined, to cock 
their arms akimbo, and flourish their fists at their 
masters. An enlightened heathen (Socrates) was 
so sensible of this that it is recorded of him that 
he often denied the calls of hunger and of thirst, 
when he found them unusually violent in their 
demands ; and sometimes, after raising the cup to 



CHARLOTTE BROOKE. 43 

his lips, laid it down again, and took a turn in his 
garden, until he found that he luas the raaster ; 
and then lie returned and gave his servant a 
drink." 

Except in her earlier years, and -during her 
period of theatrical infatuation, Miss Brooke had 
had no taste for light reading of any kind. Her 
mind had naturally an austerely religious bent, as 
may be gathered from her numerous letters, and 
also from the style of books she was in the habit 
of reading. " Law's Serious Call," the writings of 
Doctor Doddridge, and others of a like class, 
found most favour in her eyes. No doubt her 
early training under her mother's eye gave 
a bias to her religious feelings. She was 
truly benevolent, founded a girls' school in the 
country, and brought up the orphan daughter of 
an old friend as her own child. 

In 1790, Miss Brooke met with an unexpected 
trial in the loss of the small pa.trhnony which she 
had been left. She had scarcely sufficient to 
enable her to exist, and the state of her health 
was such as to preclude the possibility of her 
earning anything at literary work. In this emer- 
gency, Mr. Josejjh Walker and a few other friends 
tried to get her appointed as housekeeper to the 
lioyal Irish Academy, Dawson Street, Dublin, 
then some years in existence. The president was 



44 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISnWOMEN. 

the Earl of Charlemont, who had been an inti- 
mate friend of the accomplished author of " Giis- 
tavus Vasa." Flattering herself with the hope of 
success, and elated at the prospect of obtaining at 
least the shelter of a roof for life, she drew up the 
following petition, which was presented to the 
Royal Irish Academy : — 

"My Lords and Gentlemen, — I should not 
take the liberty of this address to a society which 
I so higldy respect, if I was not provided with an 
adequate claim to your attention. 

" I address you as the daughter of Gustavus 
Vasa — a man who, either as a friend or a patriot, 
was dear to every member of your Academy. 

'* Since his decease I have known nothing but 
affliction. Tlie death of my brother, shortly after, 
deprived me of my only protection, and also of a 
considerable share of my fortune ; a principal part 
of what remained was involved in the failure of 
Captain Brooke, and the rest is now^ lost by the 
bankruptcy of a trader in whose hands it was 
placed at interest. I have lost in all to the 
amount of one and two hundred a year, and this 
without any imprudence of my own, which might 
have drawn down those calamities upon me. 

" I find myself stripped both of friends and 
fortune, in a world of which I have but little 
knowledge — cut off from every dependence, from 



CHARLOTTE BROOKE. 



every protection, but that of Heaven and my 
country. To tlie most distinguished individuals 
of that country, I now address myself, as a descen- 
dant of Genius. I request to be entrusted with 
the care of a house destined to the purpose, and 
dedicated to the honour of Genius. I will under- 
take it, if so required, without a salary. 

" Unaccustomed to solicit, I yet bend with less 
pain to the task, when I consider the characters 
to whom my application is addressed. To you. 
Gentlemen, the memory of my Father cannot 
plead in vain ; it will, I am confident, be my 
advocate with your taste, and my own most dis- 
tressing situation, with your humanity. 

" In this protection and support for a- female 
orphan you will also fulfil the purpose for which 
your elcgfint and respectable society was formed, 
by showing to the world, that to the lloyal Irish 
Academy even the spirit of departed Genius was 
dear. 

" I have the honour to be, 

" My Lords and Gentlemen, 

*' With the utmost respect, 

" Your most obedient servant, 

"Charlotte Brooke." 

Vrom some cause, which never was explained, 
Miss Ih'ooke's application was at first neglected, 
and then refused. Her good friend, Mr. Walker, 



46 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISnWOMEN. 

urged her many and great claims upon the con- 
sideration of a society for the expressed fostering 
and encouragement of Irish Uterature. But his 
representations had no effect ; and Charlotte 
Brooke, reduced in worldly circumstances, and 
in shattered health, commenced to edit an edition 
of her father's works. By this she gained a little 
money, and a year or so afterwards hrought out a 
small book, entitled " A School for Christians," in 
dialogues for the use of little children. The work 
was not very successful ; and Miss Brooke's 
troubles were at this time increased by hearing 
that an imperfect and cheap copy of her fatlier's 
works was now being brought out without lier 
knowledge or consent. Slie fouglit for hei* riglits, 
and succeeded in suppressing the edition ; but that 
was all. Shortly afterwards she brought it out 
in an amended form, with her own notes. In 
a letter written at this period, she says : — 

"May, 15th, 1792. 

" My dear Miss T will, I fear, think sadly 

of my silence ; but in truth I am not to blame ; 
and I can declare with the utmost sincerity, that 
a single day does not pass withont/r^*^)'?/^??/^ thoughts 
of, and cordial good wishes for, her welfare. I was 
as sure of being at Cottage a month ago as I was 
of my existence. Three times I was on the point 
of setting out, and each time detained by inevitable 



GHABLOTTE BBOOKE. 47 

and disagreeable business. M'Kenzie (the College 
printer), who unfortunately printed my father's 
works, has harassed me by every species of impu- 
dence, insolence, and .... Until a week ago, 
I was not able to get the last of the books out of 
his hands, and I then found there was a number 
of the copies wanting. I refused to pay his bill 
till he gave them all up, and he threatened me 
with a suit. Any court in Christendom would 
have given it against him, and he was told so ; but 
he knew I disliked contention, and therefore bullied 
nio to obtain what lie had no riglit to. However, 
my booksellers, Archer and Jones, have taken up 
the matter, and say they hope to settle it. I 
suppose I shall lose considerably, besides the far 
greater vexation of having the work ill-done, 
will ell is so very dearly paid for. The paper is 
badly matched ; the subscribers complain, and 
those who do not understand the business will, to 
be sure, lay the blame upon me. But I have this 
consolation, that the fame of my father is justified. 
The work is not the less perfect in itself, for the 
defect of the paper ; and it will descend to pos- 
terity in a state not unworthy of its author. Any 
censure that may fall upon me, when compared 
with this consideration, is not worth a thought. 
I have ever lived but for my father, and I shall 
not now divide my little rivulet from the parent 



48 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISHWOMEN. 

stream. Oh, may we never be divided ! May we 
roll together to that sea ' from whence we never 
have return !' In hfe, my soul is his ; in death 
I trust it sliall join him ! You say I know not 
what it is to have the heart exchisively centred 
in one object — you forgot my flitlier when you 
said so. I am indeed incapable of any other love 
— my heart was intended for that alone ; and nature 
has not, nor ever will have room for any other one. 
I see none on earth who resemble him, and there- 
fore heaven alone can become his rival in my 
breast." 

This was Miss Brooke's last literary effort. She 
had intended publishing a revised edition of her 
father's famous novel, " The Fool of Quality," l)ut 
found the labour and expense would tax too 
heavily both her physical strength and her almost 
exhausted purse. For the next few years she 
resided principally with her friends, Mr. and Mrs. 
Browne, at Cottage, near Longford, and during 
the last winter of her life visited Dublin for the 
last time. She stayed alternately with Dr. TTill 
and with her faithful friend, Mrs. Hamilton, of 
Dominick Street. In the congenial and cultivated 
society of this lady. Miss Brooke always took a,n 
especial pleasure, and in her letters warmly 
eulogises Mrs. Hamilton's strong natural sense, 
and her unobtrusive steady friendship. 



CHARLOTTE BROOKE. 49 

But Miss Brooke's health had been gradually 
declining, and her friends observed with sorrow 
that during this last winter she began to fail 
rapidly. Pcrhnps she felt this herself, for she 
abruptly shortened her Dublin visit, and returned 
to Cottage. Shortly after her arrival she was 
seized with a malignant fever, and on the 29th of 
March, 1793, quietly breathed her last. From 
the moment she was stricken down with illness 
she felt she had not long to live ; and during the 
intervals of consciousness, repeatedly expressed 
her resignation to the will of God, and her sole 
trust in the atonement and mediation of her 
Saviour, 

Soon after Miss Brooke's death, her friend, Mr. 
J. C Walker, received, anonymously, some lines 
u])on licr death, Avitli a request that they might 
be j)ublished in tlie Aniholo(jia Uibernica. Mr. 
Walker immediately forwarded them to the Editor 
of that periodical, accomj)aiiied by the following 
note : — 

" Sir, — I was last night favoured with the 
enclosed hues from an unknown liand, accompanied 
with a modest request that I would forward them 
to your magazine in case they should meet my 
ap]:)robation. I do not lose a moment in sending 
them to you ; for, besides possessing many poetical 

VOL. II. E 



50 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

beauties, tliey breathe a spirit of unfeigned sorrow 
which particularly recommends them to me, who 
feel such deep affliction for the ingenious and 
amiable subject of them. 

"I am, &c. &c., 

"J. C. W. 

"April lath, 1793." 

TO THE MEMOEY OP MISS CHARLOTTE BROOKE. 

Let tow'ring pride erect the sculptured shrine, 

And venal flattery garlands twine to deck 

The vault where grandeur lies : — but come, Oh Muse ! 

And seek the lowly grave where CuiRLOTTK rests. 

Insatiate grave, and faithless ! verdure gay, 

In every springing flow'ret of the year 

Adorn thy surface ; yet thy envious depth 

Veils from my aching sight the fairest flower 

That grac'd our clime. Alas ! for ever hid 

From moi'tal eyes, dear maid ! thy sweetness blooms 

In radiant spheres beyond our feeble view. 

Oh ! early lost, and sudden ! Mighty Powers ! 

Are virtue, genius, talents, only lent 

A little moment just to raise our hope, 

And vanish, transient, as the painted cloud 

"WTiich quick dissolves in tears ? Is life no more ? 

And. cannot worth superior ward the dart, 

Or bribe a lengthened hour from ruthless death ? 

Ah, no ! could worth prolong the fleeting date, 

I had not wept o'er Charlotte's timeless urn — 

Though sad my heart, no single mounicr T, 

For drooping friendship, in dejection fixed. 

Points the mute sorrow lab'ring for a vent ; 

And gratitude, with lifted eye, pursues 

The shade of her, whose generous bosom felt 

For every human woe; nor felt alone. 

But with delighted readiness relieved : 

Religion too, and filial piety, 



OHABLOTTE BROOKE, 51 

Their vot'ry's pale remains exulting own, 
Though shrouded in the dust. And lo ! revealed 
To fancy's wond'ring gaze, a thousand shapes, 
Air-drawn, advance, bright evanescent forms, 
Attuning heav'nly harps to solemn dirge ; 
And shadowy choirs of time-ennobled bards, 
"Whose songs, by her from dark oblivion snatched, 
And failing language charm the ear again. 
While kindred genius and congenial worth 
Endure, sweet maid ! thou ne'er wilt be forgot : 
Returning seasons still shall find thy grave 
With heai-tfelt tears, and tributary wreaths 
Due honoured; hands unseen shall dress the sod; 
There pensive contemplation, too, shall steal 
From scenes of thoughtless levity, to plume 
Her wing for flight sublime, and learn of thee 
O'er earth-born ill triumphant to arise. 
To live with virtue, and with hope to die. 




E 2 



MES. MARY TIGHE. 

" PSYCHE." 
Born, October Oxir, 1772. Died, March 2lTir, 1810. 




fOllN in 1772, the daughter of the llev. 
William Blachford and of Theodosia, 
only daughter of Lady Mary Tiglie, 
daughter of Lord Darnley. Mary Blachford, 
the subject of this memoir, was scarcely in her 
twentieth year when she appeared in the 
brilliant and cultivated Dublin Society of that 
period. Tliere are two original portraits of her 
extant ; one, a miniature by Comerford, now in tlie 
possession of the Right Hon., William Tighe, of 
Woodstock : the other is an oil painting by Rom- 
ney, the property of Lady Laura Grattan. She is 
depicted witli rich flowing, dark-brown hair, a few 
tendrils of whiclr stray uj)on lier smootli, intel- 
lectual forehead. The eyes are of a deep blue : 
large and pellucid, with a wondering wistful look 
in them : the lower part of the face is exquisitely 
formed, the chiselled round chin and rather small, 
full, soft mouth indicating, in a remarkable degree, 



MBS. MARY TIGRE. r.3 

sensitiveness and sensuousness — tlie latter an 
essential of the poetic temperament — without the 
slightest trace of sensuality. The general expres- 
sion of the countenance is sweet, innocent, and 
lofty, but tinged with a look of mexpressible 
sadness. 

Young, beautiful, and gifted, she was the centre 
of attraction in the brilliant vice-regal Court of 
Dublin before the Union. They were DubUn's 
palmiest days ; when the Kanelagh Gardens were 
the resort of the beaux and belles, when the 
Parliament was held in College Green, and the 
members had their town residences in Dublin, and 
when tlie Lord-Lieutenant danced with the mys- 
terious shamrock-dressed lady at Saint Patrick's 
Ball, who vanislied as the clock struck twelve, and 
kissed the knocker of Dublin Castle on her way 
out. 

Both as Mary Blachford and as Mary Tighe, she 
must have witnessed all this : she must also have 
been cognisant of that last pathetic Parliament, 
held in the long low-ceiling upper room of a house 
in Doiuiybrook, when the few members who could 
not be bought, despairingly acknowledged the 
death of Dublin society and of Dublin's commercial 
prosperity. But although she lived through an 
eventful period of her country's history, Mrs. 
Tighe makes no allusion to these troublous times 



64 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

in any of her writings. Of her, indeed, it may 
truly be said that — 

Her soul was like a star, and dwelt apart. 

She lived an inner life which none might know. 
The following lines written by her in the year 
1792, at the close of a gay Dublin season, afibrd a 
graphic picture of the tone of her mind : — 

Returned at length to solitude and peace, 

Once more my heart resumes its lov'd pursuits, 

Once more 1 seek my lost poetic ease 

And wander, searching for Castalia's fruits. 

But ah ! in vain, to me the Nine refuse 
Inspiring succour and enkindling thought, 

Too long, alas ! I have renounced the Muse, 
Her voice neglected, and her lyre forgot. 

Lost in a crowd of folly and of noise. 

With vain delights my bosom learnt to beat. 
Resigned the pleasures I had made my choice 

Of calm philosophy and wisdom sweet. 
For in the circles of the vain and gay. 

No more her tranquil state my soul enjoyed. 
In busy idleness I passed the day, 

And mirth, and dress, and song my hoiirs employed. 

To fix the attention of admiring eyes, 

To move with elegance and talk witli ease, 
To be the object of the practised sigh, 

To attract the notice, and the ear to please. 
The empty flattery, which my heart despised. 

The present frenzy which the dance inspired, 
Joys, which my reason never could have prized. 

And which, till tasted, I had ne'er desired. 

Yet these had charms which now I blush to own. 
Powers, which I then believed not they possess'd 

The Muse to banish from her humble throne, 
Where she so oft had fired my glowing breast. 



MBS. MABY TIGHE. 



But tlie remembrance of theae emjity hours 
Alfords no single i:)leasure to my mind ; 

My soul regrets her lost collective powers, 
And sighs once more her wonted calm to find. 

For Folly's influence I yet deplore, 
A vaccant gloom she o'er my heart hath spread ; 

The secret charm of solitude is o'er, 

My thoughts are scattered, and the Muses fled. 

Such was the low ambition of my mind, 

Such were the vain desires I formed, 
For such delights my calmer joys resigned. 

And quenched the fires which had my bosom warmed. 

She was Mary Blackford when she wrote the 
foregoing verses, and mill gied in the society which she 
80 despises herself for having been enthralled with, 
chaperoned by her aunt, Mrs. Tighe, of Ilosanna, one 
of the most cultivated women of the day. Her 
father was dead ; he died when she was an infant of 
but a few months old, and her mother, a strict un- 
bending Puritan of ascetic habits, chose to live in 
retirement, and thus it was that her aunt introduced 
the beautiful Mary into that brilliant assemblage of 
wliicli she became speedily so bright an ornament. 

This Mrs. Tighe, of Ilosanna, had a son named 
Henry, who was but one year older than her niece. 
The young people were much in each other's 
society, and Henry Tighe, who had just been re- 
turned as member for Kilkemiy in the Irish Par- 
liament, fell deeply in love with his fascinating 
cousin. She returned the feeling, and the youtli- 
I'ul pair were married on October Gth, I7i)3, the 



66 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

bride being within three days of her twenty-first 
birthday, and the bridegroom in his twenty-third 
year. Henry Tighe wished to be called to the 
English Bar, so they went to live in London, in 
Manchester Square, the house they occupied be- 
longing to his mother. But he seems to have had 
little taste for the drudgery of the law ; and 
gradually allowed himself to be drawn away from 
more serious pursuits to take up the role of a 
London man of fashion. His wife's beauty and 
her many other superior attractions were powerful 
influences to gather around them a large circle of 
all those in the Metropolis famed for the graces 
of mind or person. It was a fascinating and dan- 
gerous sort of society for a young and beautiful 
woman to mix in, where she must have been the 
object of insidious flattery, and of the innumerable 
and intangible temptations to which a woman, 
excelling, as she did, in mind and in person, must 
have been subjected to. For a time this life 
seemed to charm her ; but her higher nature, 
which no contact with the world could sully, at 
length asserted itself, and her feelings found vent 
in that magnificent outburst of poetry, which for 
sublimity, of sentiment, graceful diction, and true 
poetic strength, is only second to the " Faery 
Queen" of Edmund Spenser. 

" Psyche," the poem here referred to, is one of 



MRS. 3IABY TIGHE. 57 

the most marvellous poems that has ever been 
written by any M^oman in any age, Elizabeth 
Barrett Browning alone excepted. It stands 
alone in the literature of Ireland — pure, polished, 
sublime — the outpouring of a trammelled soul 
yearning to be freed from its uncongenial sur- 
roundings. The ^publication of this poem in 1795 
at once established Mrs. Tighe's reputation as a 
poetess (although, at first, it was only printed for 
private circulation), and the fanciful name of 
" Psyche" was bestowed upon her by her admirers. 
By it she is best known in literature. But there 
are drawbacks to every earthly triumph, and 
although now in the zenith of her literary fame, 
she was forced, through serious illness, to give up 
that society of which she was so distinguished an 
oi-nament, and to retire to Cheltenham in search of 
health. Here she became rapidly worse ; and 
during a dark hour, when her life hung in the 
balance, she gave expression to her feehngs in the 
following sonnet : — 

! Thou most terrible, most dreaded Power, 
lu whntsoevcr form thou meetcst the eye ! 
AVhether thou blddost thy sudden arrow fly 

In the dread silence of the midnight hour ; 

Or whether, hovering o'er the lingering wretch, 
Thy sad cold javelin hangs suspended long, 
While round the couch the weeping kindred throng 

With hope and fear alternately on stretch. 

Oh say ; for mc what honours are prepared? 



58 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Am I now doomed to meet thy fatal arm, 
Or wilt thou first from life steal every charm, 

And bear away each good my soul would guard ? 

That thus, deprived of all it loved, my heart 
From life itself contentedly may part ! 

However, the time was not yet ripe for Death 
to clevim Mary Tighe as liis own. She never 
quite recovered her health, and was continually 
moving about from one place to the other in a 
vain search for it. She was tenderly attached to 
her husband, and, in order to please him, asso- 
ciated with the companions he selected, although 
they must have been utterly distasteful to a 
woman of her pure and refined tastes. Indeed, 
save intellectually, there seems to have been but 
little sympathy between them. They returned to 
Ireland in 1797, and nothing can give a better 
idea of her intense love for the simple pleasures of 
a country life than the following lines to the river 
Vartry, written at Rosanna in the July of the 
same year : — 

THE VARTREE. 

Sweet are thy banks, Varti-ee ! when at morn 
Their velvet verdure glistens with the dew ; 

When fragrant gales by softest zephyrs boi-ne 
Unfold the dowers, and ope their petals new. 

How bright the lustre of thy silver tide, 

Which winds, reluctant to forsake the vale ! 

How play the quivering branches on thy side, 
And lucid catch the sunbeams in the gale ! 



MBS. MABY TIGEE. 59 



And sweet thy shade at noon's more fervid hours, 
When faint, we quit the upland gayer lawn, 

To seek the freshness of thy sheltering bowers. 

Thy chestnut glooms, where day can scarcely dawn. 

How soothing, in the dark sequestered grove. 
To see thy placid waters seem to sleep ! 

Pleased, they reflect the sober tints they love 
As, unperceived, in silent peace they creep. 

The deepest foliage bending o'er thy wave. 
Tastes thy pure kisses, with embracing arms, 

While each charmed Dryad stoops her limbs to lave. 
Thy smiling Naiad meets her sister charms. 

Beneath the fragrant lime or spreading beech, 
The bleating flocks in panting crowds repose. 

Their voice alone my dark retreat can reach, 
While peace and silence all my soul compose. 

Here, Mary, rest ! the dangerous path forsake 
Where folly lures thee, and where vice ensnares. 

Thine innocence and peace no longer stake. 
Nor barter solid good for brilliant cares. 

Shun the vain bustle of the senseless crowd. 
Where all is hollow that appears like joy ; 

AVhere, the soft claims of feeling disallowed, 
Fallacious hopes the baffled soul annoy. 

Hast thou not trod each vain and giddy maze — 
By flattery led, o'er pleasure's gayest field? 

Basked in the sunshine of her brightest blaze, 
And proved whate'er she can her votaries yield. 

That full completion of each glowing hope, 
Which youth and novelty could scarce bestow, 

From the last days of joy's exhausted cup. 
Canst thou expect thy years mature shall know? 

Hast thou not tried the vanities of life, 

And all the poor mean joys of fashion known, 

Blush, tlien, to hold with wisdom longer strife, 
Submit at length a better guide to own. 



60 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISHWOMEN. 

Hei'e woo the Muses in the scenes they love ; ' 

Let science near thee take her patient stand ; 

Each weak regret for gayer hours reprove, 

And yield thy soul to Keason's calm command. 

Bosanna, July, 1797. 

In consequence of the unsettled state of the 
country, which cuhiiinated in tlie disastrous Irish 
rebellion of 1798, her husband was much away 
from her, his parliamentary duties occupying him 
when not engrossed by active service in a yeomanry 
corps. During this time Mrs. Tighe lived at 
Rosanna with her mother-in-law, who would not 
leave the place, although the house was once 
attacked by the rebels. But declining health 
compelled her to go elsewhere in search of 
strength. For the few succeeding years she 
resided occasionally at various English watering- 
places, and in 1805 returned to Ireland, never 
again to leave it. 

After 1805 Mrs. Tighe chiefly resided in Domi- 
nick Street, Dublin, and was so far enfeebled by 
constant illness that she lost the use of her limbs, 
and was obliged always to lie on a sofa. Not- 
withstanding this affliction, her vigour of mind 
was unimpaired, and she received constant assem- 
blies of all that was most intellectual in Dublin 
society. Around that lovely and patient invalid's 
couch might be seen gathered Charlemont, Lady 
St. George, Lydia White, vain Sydney Owenson, 



MRS. ilABY TIGHE. 61 

with her carefully-arranged scarf, and Thomas 
Moore, who had not at that period become 
" Lord Lansdowne's piper," nor had then given 
vent to those wild outbursts of hatred afjainst the 
Saxon wliicli he sung to solace a Whig peer in 
tlie intervals of drawing up a Coercion Bill, for 
the bard's — 

Loved island of sorrow ! 

Letters written by her at this period, and which 
are now in the possession of members of her family, 
si low but too plainly that, her bodily pains were 
not to be compared to the mental agony she under- 
went as the result of her ill-assorted marriage, 
iler " Psyche" seemed to be rebelling against the 
chauis wliich bound her to earth, and struggled to 
get free. 

In 1809 she went to Woodstock, the beautiful 
seat of lier husband's elder brother, Mr. William 
Tighe, author of " The Plants," and there she re- 
mained until her death, in 1810. She was per- 
fectly aware that the terrible lingering disease from 
which she suffered was incurable, and her last 
lines — -written in 1809, upon receiving a branch of 
Mezerion in flower — seem prophetic of her death 
before tlie coming springtime : — 

Odours of Sjiriiig, my sense ye charm 

Witli fragrance premature, 
And 'luid these days of dark alarm 

Almost to hope allure. 



62 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISEWOMEN. 

Methinks with purpose soft ye come 

To tell of brighter hours, 
Of May's blue skies' abundant bloom, 

Her sunny gales and showers. 

Alas ! for me shall May in vain 
The powers of life restore. 

These eyes that weep and watch in pain 
Shall see her charms no more. 

No, no; this anguish cannot last- 
Beloved friends — adieu ! 

The bitterness of death were past 
Could I resign but you. 

But oh ! in every mortal pang 
That rends my soul from life. 

That soul, which seems on you to hang 
Thro' each convulsive strife. 

Even now, with agonising grasp 
Of terror and regret. 

To all, in life, its love would clasp 
» Clings close and closer yet. 

Yet why — immortal, vital spark, 

Thus mortally opprest ? 
Look up, my soul, through prospects dark, 

And bid thy terrors rest. 
Forget — forego thy earthly part, 

Thine heavenly being trust. 
Ah ! vain attempt ! my coward heart 

Still shuddering clings to dust ! 

Oh ! ye who soothe the pangs of death 

With love's own patient care. 
Still — still retain this fleeting breath, 

Still pour the fervent prayer. 
And ye — whose smile must greet my eye 

No more — nor voice my ear. 
Who breathed for me the tender sigh. 

And shed the pitying tear ; 



MBS. MABY TIGHE. 63 

Wboge kindness (tlio' far, far removed) 

My grateful thoughts perceive, 
Pride of my life — esteemed — beloved-- 

My last sad claim receive ! 
Oh ! do not quite your friend forget — ■ 

Forget alono her faults I 
And speak of her with fond regret 

Who asks your lingering thoughts. 

All lier fears of death were entirely removed 
before she breatlied her last, on March 24th, 1810. 
She died as she had lived, a simple, earnest 
Christian, an ornament of her sex, and of the 
social and intellectual life of the land she lived in 
and belonged to. 

Mary Tighe is buried in the churchyard of 
Inistiogue. Over her remains her husband placed 
a handsome monumental chamber, containing a 
reclining statue by Flaxman ; and her brother-in- 
law, Mr. William Tighe, inscribed upon her tomb 
the following lines to her memory : — 

If on this earth she passed in mortal guise 
A short and painful pilgrimage, shall we, 
Her 8!id survivors, grieve that love divine 
Eemoved her timely to perpetual bliss ? 
Thou art not lost ! in chastest song and pure 
With us still lives thy virtuous mind, and seems 
A beacon for the weary soul, to guide 
Her safely through adliction's winding path 
To that eternal mansion gained by thee ! 

W. T. 



MARY BOYLE. 

(COUNTESS OF WARWICK.) 
Born, a.d. 1625. Died, a.d. 1678. 




|ATIY BOYLE, Countess of Warwick, wms 
the thirteenth child of the first Earl of 
Cork. Born in 1G25,* m 1G41 she was 
married to the Earl of Warwick, whom she sur- 
vived about five years. Her husband was only 
Mr. Kich at the time of the marriage, as the 
following copy of the register of marriages solem- 
nised in the parish church of St. Nicholas, Shep- 
perton, Middlesex, will show : — 

* In Lord Cork's "True Remembrances," it is stated tliat liis 
daughter Mary was Lorn tlio 1 Itli of November, 1G2-1. She, liowevor, 
fixes the date of her birthday on the 8th of November of tlie fol- 
lowing year, as the following passage from her diary will show : 
"8th November, 1671. — In the morning as soon as up, 1 retired 
into the wilderness to meditate, and it boimj my hirlliday, it pleased 
God to make me call to my remembruuce many of the special 
mercies with which my life was filled. And whilst I was doing so,- 
I considered that God had ior forty-six years so mercifxdly j)rovided 
for me, that I had not ever out of necessity wanted a meal's meat, 
nor ever broke a bone, nor in twenty years' time been necessitated 
to keep my bed one day by reason of sickness ; this did exceedingly 
draw out my heart to love God." 



MABY BOYLE. 65 



" Mr. Charles Rich, second son to the Kight 
Hon. Hobert Earle of Warwick, and the Lady 
Maiy Boyle, dan gl iter to the Ixight Hon. the 
Jllarle of Cork in Ireland, were married the 21st 
of July, 1G41," Mr. Rich did not succeed to the 
Earldom until after the death of his eldest brother, 
in 1659. Two children were the issue of this 
marriage — a girl, named Elizabeth, who died 
whilst yet an infant ; and a son, who died in his 
twenty-first year, a few months after his marriage 
with the daughter of Lord Devonshire. " I con- 
fess I loved him at a rate," says the Countess in 
her Diary, " that if my heart do not deceive me, 
I could, with all the willingness in the world, have 
died either for liim or with him, if God had only 
seen it fit ; yet I was dumb and held my peace, 
because God did it, and was constantly fixed in 
the l)elief that this affliction came from a merciful 
Father, and therefore would do me good." 

The union seems to have been a singularly well- 
matched one ; husband and wife being equally 
l^enevolent and enlightened, and zealous to pro- 
mote the mental and physical welfare of those 
around them. A woman of rare intellectual gifts, 
and possessed of more than ordinary strong com- 
mon sense, the Countess of Warwick's fame for 
cliarity and hospitality was such that it advanced 



tlie rent of houses in her neiglibourhood. She 
VOL. II. F 



66 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISnWOMEN. 

was the common arbiter of all controversies, which 
she decided with so much sagacity and judgment, 
that she is given the credit of having averted 
many tedious and expensive law-suits. 

The Countess of Warwick's literary remains 
consist of the then fashionable " Letters," and of a 
Diary in which she faithfully recorded almost daily, 
for twelve years of her life, the domestic occurrences 
of the period, soon after the restoration of Charles IT. 
The letters were chiefly addressed to persons distin- 
guished in literature ; and deal justly, incisively, 
and comprehensively with topics of the day. Under 
the name of the Lady Harmonia, the Earl of Berke- 
ley dedicated his Historical Applications to the 
Countess of Warwick, who, in return, wrote him 
" a most pious letter," of which the following safe 
advice forms a part : — 

"I would desire you to be as chearfull as you 
can, and to that purpose I would recommend to 
you that gaiety of goodness that will make you 
most pleasing to your self and others. And now, 
my lord, as your friend, you must give me leave 
to give you not only good counsel, but my own 
experiences too (like nurses who feed their chil- 
dren with nothing but what they have first them- 
selves digested into milk), and to assure you that 
however the devil and wicked men may persuade 
you that religion will make you melancholick, yet 



MABY BOYLE. 67 



I can assert from my own experience, that nothing 
can give you that comfort, serenity, and com- 
posedness of mind, as a well and orderly led life. 
This will free you from all those sad disquieting 
remorses and checks of conscience which follow 
an ill action, and give you that peace of God that 
passes all understanding, and that continual feast 
of a good conscience. This will calm your desires 
and quiet your wishes, so as you shall find the 
consolations of God are not small. You will find 
you have made a happy exchange, having gold for 
brass, and pearls for pebbles. For truly, my lord, 
I am upon trial convinced, that all the pleasures of 
this world are not satisfactory. We expect a great 
deal moi-e from them than we find ; for pleasures 
die in their birth ; and, therefore, as Bishop Hall 
says, are not worthy to come into the bills of 
mortality. I must confess for my own part, though 
I had as much as most people in this kingdom to 
please me, and saw it in all the glories of tlie 
Court ; and was both young and vain enough to 
endeavour having my share in all the vanities 
thereof; yet I never found they satisfied me ; 
God having given me a nature uncapable of satis- 
faction m anything below the highest excellency." 
In 1673 the Earl of Warwick died, upon St. 
Bartholomew's Day, to the unspeakable grief of his 
devoted wife. She passionately bewails his loss 

F 2 



68 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

in her Diary; her sole comfort being in the reflec- 
tion, that for the twenty years he was an invalid, 
she had been unremitting in her attentions to him 
by night and day. Her grief was so excessive that 
her health became seriously affected, and she says : 
" This greatest trial of my life did for a long time 
disorder my frail house of clay, and made me have 
thoughts that my dissolution was near ; which 
thoughts were not at all terrible or affrighting to 
me, but very pleasant and delightful." 

In addition to her " Letters," the Countess of 
Warwick wrote " Occasional Meditations upon 
Sundry Subjects ; with pious reflections upon 
several Scriptures," These meditations abound in 
fine metaphorical language, although the sul)jects 
of some of tliem seem almost too trivial to be so 
seriously treated. They are pervaded by a sjjiiit 
of fervent Christianity ; and exemplify the pure 
and exalted mind of the writer. 

The Countess of Warwick died on tlie 12tli of 
April, 1G78, at the age of fifty-three. Dr. i\nthony 
Walker preached a sermon at her funeral, whicli 
speaks of her as — "truly excellent, and great in 
all respects ; great in the honour of her birth, 
being born a lady and a virtuosa both ; great by 
her marriage into a noble family ; great by her 
tongue, for never woman used one better, speaking 
so gracefully, promptly, discreetly, pertinently, 



MAllY BOYLE. 69 



liolily ; great by her pen, as you raay discover by 
that little taste of it the world has been happy in, 
the hasty fruit of one or two interrupted hours 
after supper ; great by being the greatest mistress 
and proraotress, not to say the foundress and 
inven tress, of a new science — the art of obliging ! 
in which she attained that sovereign perfection, 
that she reigned over all their hearts with whom 
she did converse ; great in the unparalleled since- 
rity of constant, faithful, condescending friendship, 
and for that love of kindness which dwelt in her 
lips and heart." 




HENRIETTA BOYLE. 

(LADY O'NEIL ) 
BoKN, A.D. 1758. Died, a.d. 1793, 

NOTHEE, accomplislied scion of the illus- 
trious house of Cork and Orrery, Henrietta 
Boyle was the only daughter of Charles, 
Viscount Dungarvan, eldest son of John, Earl of 
Cork. Descended from a line of nohle authors — 
her uncle Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery, was the 
famous opponent of Dr. Bentley in the Boyle and 
Bentley controversy — who had distinguished them- 
selves in various walks of literature, this lady was 
the first of her name who wooed the Muse. 

At the age of nineteen Henrietta ]3oyle was 
married to John O'Neil, Esq., of Shane's Castle, in 
the County Antrim. The details of her life are 
but meagre ; and she is chiefly remembered socially 
as being the friend of the novelist and poetess, 
Mrs. Charlotte Smith. This lady dedicated some 
of her sonnets to Lady O'Neil, and also wrote some 
verses upon her death. Of Lady O'Neil's poems, 
the following specimen will give a good idea of the 



HENRIETTA BOYLE. 71 

finish and poetical feeling wliicli distinguished 
everything that emanated from her graceful 
pen : — 

ODE TO THE POPPY. 

Nctt for the promise of the labour'd field, 
Not for the good the yellow harvests yield, 

I bend at Cerea' shrine; 
For dull to humid eyes appear 
The golden glories of the year ; 

Alas ! a melancholy worsliip'a mine. 
I hail the goddess for her scarlet flower ! 

Thou brilliant weed 

That dost so far exceed 
The richest gifts gny Flora can bestow, 
Heedless I pass'd thee in life's morning hour — 

Thou comforter of woe — 
Till sorrow taught me to confess thy power. 

In eai-ly days, when fancy cheats, 

A various wreath I wove, 
Of laughing Spring's luxuriant sweets, 

To dock uu grateful love : 

The rose or thorn my numbers crown'd 

As Venus smil'd, or Venus frown'd, 
But love and joy, and all their train are flown. 

E'en languid hope no more is mine, 

And 1 will sing of thee alone ; 
Unless, perchance, the attributes of grief, 

The C3'j)res3 bud and willow leaf, 
Their pale funereal foliage blend with thine. 

Hail ! lovely blossom ! thou canst ease 
The wretched victims of disease ; 
Canst close those weary eyes in gentle sleep, 
Which never open but to weej), 
For oh ! thy potent charm 
Can agonising grief disarm ; 
Expel imperious Memory from her seat 
And bid the throbbing heart forget to beat. 



72 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Soul-soothing plant, that can such blessings give, 

By thee the mourner bears to live ! 
By thee the hopeless die ! 

Oh ! ever friendly to despair, 

Might sorrow's pallid votary dare 
Without a crime that remedy implore, 

Which bids the spirit from its bondage fly, 
I'd court thy palliative aid no more. 

No more I'd sue that thou shouldst spread 
Thy spell around my aching head. 
But would conjure thee to impart 
Thy balsam for a broken heart ! 
And by thy soft Lethean pow'r. 
Questionable flower. 
Burst these terrestrial bonds, and other regions try. 

Lady O'Neil died in September, 1793 ; her 
husband survived her but a few years, dying in 
June, 1798, from the effects of wounds received in 
a sharp action with some disaffected insurgents in 
the County Antrim. 




MARIA EDGEWORTH. 




Born, a.h. 1707. Died, a.u. 1849. 

N the amusing cUronicles of the house of 
Edgeworth there are many curious anec- 
dotes recorded, which vindicate the title 
of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and his illustrious 
daughter to the combined genius and eccentricities 
with which they have been accredited. The lives 
and labours of both father and daughter are so 
blended and intertwined that their names and 
memories cannot be separated. They were con- 
nected by ties stronger than those of blood — by 
community of objects, habits, affections, and modes 
of thought. He had very plausible claims to be 
considered her literary parent. He divined the 
naturnl bent of her genius, and aided, without 
forcing, its development. He gave her the most 
bracing kind of education, moral and intellectual ; 
the groundwork being scrupulous accuracy of 
statement, patient observation, self-knowledge, 
and self-respect. From her early girlhood he was 
her companion and friend. He read with her. 



74. ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

wrote with her, came before an applauding pubhc 
hand-in-hand with her, and, finally, he traded 
upon her popularity. In London literary society 
the two Irish lions — father and daughter — roared 
so loudly that Lord Byron proposed the formation 
of a Society for the Suppression of Edge worth. 
But Bichard Lovell Edgeworth was irrepressible ; 
and, although a bore of the first magnitude, was a 
genial, clever, and kmd-hearted Irishman. The 
best description of him is given by Lord Byion : — 
" I have been reading the Life by himself and 
daughter of Mr, B. L. Edgeworth, the father of 
the Miss Edgeworth. It is altogether a great 
name. In 1813 I recollect to have met them in 
the fasliionable world of London, in the assemblies 
of the hour, and at a breakfast of Sir Humphrey 
and Lady Davy's, to which I was invited for the 
nonce. I had been the lion of 1812; Miss Edge- 
worth and Madame de Stael, with the Cossack, 
towards the end of 1813, were the exhibitions of 
the succeeding year. I thought Edgeworth a fine 
old fellow of a clarety, elderly, red comi)lexion, 
but active, brisk, and endless, lie wjia seventy, 
but did not look fifty — no, nor forty-eight even. 
I had seen poor Fitzpatrick not very long before : 
a man of pleasure, wit, eloquence — all things. He 
tottered, but still talked like a gentleman, though 
feebly. Edgeworth bounced about, and talked 



MABIA EDQEWOUTn. 



loud and long, but he seemed neither weakly nor 
decrepit, and hardly old. 

" He was not much admired in London, and I 
remember a ' ryghte merrie' and conceited jest 
which was rife among the gallants of the day — 
viz., a paper had been presented for the recall of 
Mrs. Siddons to the stage, to which all men had 
been called to subscribe. Whereupon Thomas 
Moore, of profane and poetical memory, did pro- 
[)ose that a similar paper should be subscribed for 
the recall of Mr. Edgeworth to Ireland. The fact was 
everybody cared more about her. She was a nice 
little unassuming, * Jeannie-Deans-looking body,' 
as we Scotch say ; and if not handsome, certainly 
not ill-looking. Her conversation was ,as quiet as 
lierself One would never have guessed she could 
write her name ; whereas her father talked, not as 
if he could write nothing else, but as if nothmg 
else was wortli writing." 

As far back as the reign of Elizabeth we find 
that Edgeworthstown, in the County Longford, 
was in the 2>ossession of the family whence it derived 
its name. Li 1G19, Edward Edgeworth, Bishop of 
Down and Connor, dying without issue, left his 
fortune to his brother Francis. From the latter 
was lineally descended Richard Lovell Edgeworth, 
tlie father of tlie famous novelist. Mention is also 
made of a Lady Edgeworth, renowned for her 



76 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

beauty and courage. Upon lier presentation 
at Court, she made such an impression upon 
the susceptible heart of Charles II., that his 
gallant attentions became so unmistakable as to 
cause her to refuse to attend the Court ajxain. In 
illustration of this lady's courage, it is recorded 
that upon some sudden alarm at her husband's 
Irish castle of Lissard, she hurried to a garret for 
gunpowder, followed by a maidservant carrying 
a candle without a candlestick. When the lady 
had taken the quantity she wanted from the 
barrel, had locked the door and was half-way down 
the stairs again, she observed the girl had left the 
candle, and asked her what she had done with it. 
The maid replied that she had left it " stuck in 
the barrel of black salt." Lady Edgewoi-tli re- 
turned by herself to the garret, put her hand care- 
fully underneath the candle, and carried it care- 
fully out. 

*' I am not a man of prejudice," Kichai'd Lovell 
Edgeworth is reported to have said one day during 
his later years, when discou losing upon his darling 
themes of himself and his affairs. "I have had 
four wives ; the second and third were sisters; and 
I was in Ijve with the second during the lifetime 
of the first." 

The first wife had been a Miss Elers, daughter 
of Paul Elers, Esq., of Black Bourton, in Oxford- 



MAMA EDOEWOBTIT. 77 

sliire, and was the mother of Maria and one son. 
The second and tliird M'"ere Honora and EUzabeth 
Sneyd, and tlie fourth, Miss Beaufort, was the 
sister of the late Admiral Sir Francis Bea.ufort. 
With these stepmothers and their various families, 
Maria Edge worth lived on the most harmonious 
terms ; a fact which speaks well for the tempers 
and dispositions of all parties. 

Born in the year 17G7, Maria Edge worth was 
just six 3^ears old when her mother died ; and in 
after-life remembered little more of her than 
havinix been taken to her deathbed for a last fare- 
well. Up to this time Maria had lived at Black 
Bourton, but when her father married Miss Honora 
Sneyd, a few months after the death of his first 
wife, they all went to live at Edgeworthstown. 
The second Mrs. Edgeworlh amply supplied the 
place of the mother the child had lost ; and it was 
with unfeigned regret that, in consequence of her 
fiiiling health, she was obliged to part with Maria, 
and send her to a boarding-school in Derby. She 
was now eight years old, a clever, mischievous 
little girl, who rapidly improved, and made 
astonishing progress in her studies. Music alone 
was the one branch of education which she failed 
to Ijecome mistress of Her music-master gave up 
the at tern I )t to teach her in despair. She also 
went through the usual tortures of back boards, 



78 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISHWOMEN. 

iron collars, and dumb-bells; and used to say that 
the first day she entered the school -room, and heard 
a little girl, younger than herself, glibly repeat the 
nine parts of speech, she felt more admiration for 
her than she ever experienced afterwards for any 
effort of human genius. 

Whilst she was at school, her father commenced, 
in his letters to her, that system of educating her 
powers of mind by analytical reflection and accurate 
observation, which she has so well reproduced in 
her " Parent's Assistant." Although during the 
greater part of his daughter's school-days Kichard 
Lovell Edgeworth was chiefly employed in marry- 
ing and burying his wives, yet he did not forget 
Maria's mental traininof. He was a man of mar- 
vellous insight into character, and at a veiy early 
period of her girlhood he perceived that she had a 
mind of no ordinary capacity. " I beg that you 
will send me a. tale about the length of a Spec- 
tator," he writes to her on one occasion, " upon the 
subject of Generosity ; it must be taken from 
history or romance, and nuist be sent tlie day 
se'nnight after you receive this, and T beg you 
will take some pains about it." 

The same subject was given to a young gentle- 
man from Oxford, and when an impartial judgment 
was passed upon them, Maria's story was pro- 
nounced to be very much the better of the two : 



MABIA EDGEWOBTH. 79 

— "an excellent story, and extremely well written," 
was the verdict, " but where is the Generosity ?" 
This saying became a sort of proverb with her 
afterwards. It was her first story, and unfor- 
tunately it has not been preserved. She used to say 
that there was in it a sentence of inextricable con- 
fusion between a saddle, a man and his horse. 

Maria Edgeworth left school when she was 
about sixteen, and the family now settled down 
]>ermanently at Edgeworthstown, which was her 
home for the remainder of her life. In her memoirs 
of her father she gives a very detailed account of 
their mode of living there, their social life in 
general, and also introduces a graphic sketch of 
her father's manner of dealing with his tenantry and 
labourers. " His honour, God bless him ! is good 
pny," was the first encomimn she heard upon 
her return home. Richard Lovell Edgeworth was 
a model of what a resident landlord should be. He 
had no dealings with middlemen ; he received his 
rents without the intervention of agent or sub- 
agent ; he chose his tenants for their characters, 
the sole claims to preference being industry, 
honesty, and sobriety. He made no difference 
between CathoHc and Protestant, Saxon and Celt, 
and his unpartial administration of his magisterial 
duties was proverbial. 

In the year 1782, at her father's suergestion, 



80 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISnWOMUN. 

Maria Edgeworth coramenced the translation of 
the " Adele et Theodore" oT Madame de Genhs. 
The first vohime was just completed when Hol- 
croft's translation was published. She continued, 
under the guidance of her father, to write innu- 
merable short tales and essays, but without any 
thought of their publication. They were written 
for private amusement — usually on a slate — she 
then read them aloud to her brothers and sisters, 
and if they approved of them she copied them. 
The bare sketch was always submitted to her 
father, who used to say, " I don't want any of your 
painting, none of your drapery ! I can imagine all 
that. Let me see the bare skeleton." 

" Letters for Literary Ladies" and the " Parent's 
Assistant" were Maria Edgeworth 's first published 
works, but her name as an authoress first acquired 
notoriety by the publication of " Practical Educa- 
tion," in 1798. It was at once praised and abused 
enough to make the authors famous. The contents 
were of a most miscellaneous description, and 
included everjrthing that could affect the mental 
or physical training of a rational human being. 
Unutterably dull, prosy, and ludicrously childish 
in some parts, yet the book was a step in the right 
direction. Hitherto, no one had taken the trouble 
to inaugurate any series of text-books of first 
principles of knowledge for the young; As this 



MARIA EDGEWOBTIL 81 

work embraced easy chapters on grammar and 
classical literature, geogi'apliy, clironology, arith- 
metic, ffeometry, and mechanics, it is no wonder 
tliat it attracted universal attention. But one 
omission did not escape the watchful eyes of the 
reviewers : the writers taught morality alone. 
" Here, readers," said t]\Q British Critic, ''is educa- 
tion ti la mode, in the true style of modern 
l)hilosophy ; nearly eight hundred quarto pages 
on practical education, and not a word on God, 
religion, Christianity, or a hint that such topics are 
ever to be mentioned." The authors seem to have 
been prepared for such an outburst of opinion, for 
they say in their preface : — 

" On religion and politics we have been silent, 
l)ecause we have no ambition to gain partisans or 
to make proselytes. Tlie scrutinising eye of 
criticism, in looking over our table of contents, will 
also probably observe that there are no chapters 
on courage or chastity. To pretend to teacli 
courage to Britons would be as ridiculous as it is 
unnecessary ; and except to those who are exposed 
to the contagion of foreign manners, we may boast 
of the superior delicacy of our fair countrywomen. " 
Of this work Maria Edgeworth wrote about 
two-thirds, her father contributing the remainder. 
She [)articularly dislil^ed the title of " Parent's 
Assistant," one of her earlier publications. Origi- 

VOL. IT. (i 



82 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

lially it head been called the '* Parent's Friend," 
hut was altered by the publisher to the former. 
Miss Edgeworth said she disliked the name, 
because of its association with an old treatise on 
arithmetic called the " The Tutor's Assistant." 

But although her well-trained, well-stored, and 
practical mind eminently fitted Miss Illdgewortli ■ 
to write upon educational siibjocts, yet iiction was 
undoubtedly her forte. The " Essay on Irish 
Bulls," which she wrote in partnership with her 
father, was published with the design of showing 
the English public the eloquence, wit, and talent 
of. the lower classes of people in Ireland. There 
can be very little doubt but that the writing of 
this essay first suggested to Miss Edgeworth the 
first work in which she struck into her own pecu- 
liar vein. The characters in " Castle Backrent" 
are but so many pegs upon which are hung the 
attributes analysed in the " Essay on Irish Bulls."* 
T'he first edition of " Castle Backrent" wiis 
published anonymously in 1800, and its success 
was immediate. Some person — whose name is 
now forgotten — not only asserted that he was the 
author of it, but actually took the trouble to copy 



* A gentleraan — secretary to the Irish Agricultural Society — ■ 
much interested in improving the breed of Irish cattle, sent for this 
boot, and upon discovering the real nature of its contents, threw it 
away in disgust. 



MARIA EDGEWORTII. 83 

out several pages with corrections and erasures, as 
if it were his original manuscript. In 1801 a 
second edition was publislied, with the author's 
name appended, and it was also translated into 
German and Frencli. The pictures which French 
journalists and caricaturists used to give of the 
maimers and customs of the English, were not 
more amusing than the literal manner in which 
they took the exceptionally ludicrous incidents of 
Miss Edgeworth's story as being everyday occur- 
rences amongst the Irish. The sweeping of the stairs 
icith the u'i<j was gravely commented upon as an 
Irish custom. This is on a par with the French 
writer who seriously adduced Dean Swift's ironical 
proposal to relieve the Irish poor by converting 
their children into food for the rich English, as 
illustrative of the atrocities practised in that 
barbarous and extraordinarv kingfdom. 

Besides preparing the second edition of " Castle 
Rackrent" for the press, in 1801, Miss Edgeworth 
appeared before the public twice in the same year. 
" Belinda" — one of her most popular novels — was 
highly successful; so were her "Moral Tales." 
The latter were heralded by an elaborate j^reface 
fi"om her father's pen, in which he explained that 
the tales were written by her to illustrate the 
opinions set forth in " Practical Education ;" he 
further goes on to state the moral of each — about 

G 2 



84 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

the most effective way of repelling readers that 
could well be contrived by an admiring parent. 

Ireland was now in a very unsettled state, from 
the combined effects of the recent Irish rebelhon, 
and the agitation attendant upon the Union ; so, 
taking advantage of the Peace of Amiens, Mr. 
and Mrs. Edgeworth, Maria, and her two step-sisters 
paid a visit to Paris in the autumn of 1802. 
Here they at once took their position in the best 
literary society, and seem to have known every one 
worth knowing : Madame Pecamier, Comte and 
Comtesse de Segur, La Harpe, Suard, Boissy 
d'Anglas, Montmorenci, Camille Jordan, and Kos- 
ciusko. They were also acquainted with Madame 
de Genlis ; and Miss Edgeworth, in some of her 
letters, gives lively sketches of the various enter- 
tainments to which they were constantly invited. 
At a breakfixst at the Abbe Marellet's, they met 
Madame Sophie D'Houdetot, the original of Julie 
in Pousseau's " Nouvelle Ilcloise." Miss Edo-e- 
wortli thus describes her : — 

" Julie is now seventy-two years of age, a thin 
woman in a little black bonnet ; she appeared to 
me shockingly ugly ; she squints so much that it 
is impossible to tell which way she is looking ; but 
no sooner did I hear her speak than I began to 
likelier; and no sooner was I seated beside her, 
than I began to find in her countenance a most 



MARIA EDGEWORTH. 85 

benevolent and agreeable impression. She entered 
into conversation immediately ; her manner invited 
and could not .fail to obtain confidence. She 
seems as gay and open-hearted as a girl of 
seventeen. It has been said of her that she not 
only never did any harm, but never suspected 
any. I wish I could at seventy-two be such a 
woman ! 

" She told me that Kousseau, whilst he was 
writing so finely on education and leaving his own 
cliildren in the Foundling Hospital, defended him- 
self with so much eloquence that even those who 
blamed him in their hearts could not find tongues 
to answer him. Once at a dinner at Madame 
D'Houdetot's there was a fine pyramid of fruit, 
llousseau in helping himself took the j^each which 
formed tlie base of the pyramid, and the rest fell 
immediately. * Kousseau,' said she, * that is 
what you always do with all our systems, you pull 
down with a single touch, but who will build up 
what you pull down V I asked if he was grateful 
for all the kindness shown to him. 'No — he was 
ungrateful : he had a thousand bad qualities, but I 
turned my attention from them to his genius and 
the good he had done mankind.' " 

Many ci'itics have found fault with the stern 
self-control which ]\Iiss Edgeworth always incul- 
cates in her writings, and have said that the hard 



86 ILLUSTRIOUS IllISHWOMEN. 

trials she imposes are superhuman. But Maria 
Edgeworth was too practical to do anytliing of the 
sort. She was no Madame D'Aubray with high- 
flown "ideas" of self-sacrifice, admirably adapted 
for the use of others, but sliirked by herself; 
before setting down her ideas of self-command 
under temptation, she had tested them. Caroline 
Percy, in her novel of " Patronage," controlling her 
love for Count Altenberg, is Maria Edgeworth 
resolved upon conquering her own love for the 
Chevalier Edelcrantz. 

For even practical Maria Edgeworth had a 
romance in her life. It did not come until she 
was thirty-six years of age, so she probably had 
her feelings under better control tliaii if she had 
met her lover in earlier years. Monsieur Edel- 
crantz was a Swede, and the love ail'air, if it can 
be dignified by such a name, was thus announced 
to her relations by the lady : — " Here, my dear 
aunt, I was interrupted in a manner that will 
surprise you as much as it surprised me, by tlie 
coming in of Monsieur Edelcrantz, a Swedish gen- 
tleman, whom we have mentioned to you, of 
superior understanding and mild manners : he 
came to ofter me his hand and heart ! ! 

*' My heart, you may suppose, cannot return his 
attachment, for I have seen but very little of him, 
and have not had time to have formed any judg- 



MARIA BBGEWOBTH. 87 

meut, except that I think nothhig could t6mpt me 
to leave my own dear friends and my own country 
to live in Sweden," — so, after all, Maria Edge worth 
was scarcely justified in saying, " Ich hahe gelebt 
tmd gelieht." 

Upon their return to Edgeworthstown, in 1803, 
" Popular Tales" aj)2Jeared, with a preface by her 
father. Later on were published the first series of 
" Tales of Fashionable Life," their object being to 
display the errors of fashionable education, and the 
follies of fashionable life. They consisted of five 
tales of very unequal length, the first of tlieni — - 
that called " Ennui" — being by far the best. Of 
course, as might have been expected, although the 
authoress gives a summary of the duties of tuition, 
she has excluded religion from her system of edu- 
cation. The morality of Miss Edgeworth, as 
detailed in her " Tales," is a system of manners 
regulated by j^rudence and a sense of propriety, 
liaving little connexion with the heart, and rarely 
leading to any very diflicidt or important efi^orts of 
virtue. There is little in her standard of moral 
duty to which any one of common discretion and 
average goodness of disposition does not naturally 
conform, and scarcely anything in the motives she 
proposes has a nobler source than a regard for 
worldly and social interests. 

The pubhcation of these " Tales of Fashionable 



88 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Life" set the seal of individuality upon Maria 
Edgeworth's literary labours. She inaugurated 
what may be called the natural mode of novel 
writing, without dragging her realism through 
the mud of the affectation of ignoring all idealism. 
Maria Edgeworth scorned the traditional pro- 
perties of the novelist. The traditionary villain, 
the traditionary seducer and his victim, and all 
the other cut-and-dried incidents of fiction she 
would have none of. She discarded them all, and 
with new materials resolved to make a fresh start ; 
and, taking people as she found them, she wrote 
about them in like manner, thus inaugurating a 
new class of literature. 

The chief charm of Miss Edgeworth's stories 
lies in their fidelity to Nature. They have an air 
oi' probability about them, induced by the fact that 
the writer presents Nature under its ordinary, not 
imder its extra-ordmary — although ofttimes pro- 
bable — aspects. As a writer of tales and stories 
Miss Edgeworth has a very marked idiosyncrasy. 
It is that of venturing to dispense common sense 
to her readers, and to bring theni within the pale 
of real life and natural feeling. She presents us 
with no incredible adventures or inconceivable 
sentiments, no hyperbolical representations of 
uncommon character, or monstrous exliibitions 
of exaggerated passion. "Without excluding love 



MAEIA EDGEWOBTH. 89 

from her pages, she assigns it very moderate 
limits ; at times giving the idea that if the 
character could have been painted without it, 
that it would have been more to her taste to 
have done so. The sentiment is toned down, and 
reduced to the level of the other passions. Her 
heroes and heroines are never miraculously good, 
nor detestably wicked. They are such men and 
women as we see and converse with every day of 
our lives, with the same proportionate mixture in 
them of wliat is right and what is wrong, what is 
great and what is little. 

The second series of " Tales of Fashionable Life" 
was published in 1812. It comprised four tales, 
or, as we would now call them, " novelettes," of 
whicli the longest and the best was " The Ab- 
sentee." Then followed her novel of " Patronage," 
which Jeffrey criticised in the Quarterly Review in 
the following terms : — 

"The character we have given of Miss Edge- 
worth's writings in general is applicable, without 
any material alteration, to these volumes. We 
confess, however, that we think them inferior — a 
good deal inferior— to the best of her former pro- 
ductions. The length of the work makes her 
deticiency in the art of framing a story more con- 
s})icuous and less excusable. We are carried on 
easily and pleasantly for a short distance by mere 



90 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISHWOMSN. 

sketches and dialogues, and we excuse the want of 
skill in a tale that is to end so soon. But when 
the same personages are to be kept upon the stage 
through four whole volumes it is but reasonable 
that such a demand upon our attention should be 
supported by a proportionate interest in the cha- 
racters and situations. We expect invention, 
combination, unity, and the absence of these 
qualities is a just cause of disappointment. They 
come strictly within the terms of the author's 
implied engagement to the reader. In ' Pa- 
tronage,' the persons come in and out, exhibit 
themselves, and describe others, in an agreeable 
way enough, but without our well knowing why 
they came or why they went, without our much 
caring whether or not they ever appear again. 
The author, too, begins to flag. She seems en- 
cumbered by the unsuccessful care of an unusual 
number of persons and events, and her powers of 
entertainment are less at her command. ' Pa- 
tronage' is, in fact, another ' Tale of Fashionable 
Life,' almost as long as all the preceding ones put 
together, and yet we doubt wliether more passages 
of distinguished merit could be selected from it 
than could be matched from * The Absentee,' 
though it occupies three times the space. Indeed, 
if we might venture to offer our advice to a person 
of Miss Edgeworth's distinguished reputation, it 



MABIA EBGEWORTH. 91 

would be to revert to her former method, and to 
break down her sketches into tales of a more 
manageable length. She would thus better con- 
sult the convenience of her readers, and at the 
same time give freer scope to her own faculties in 
that style in which she really excels, by not task- 
ing them for an exertion to which they ai'e not 
adapted. 

" There are no Irish characters in ' Patronage' 
(O'Brien is scarcely an exception). Perhaps Miss 
Edgeworth thought the subject was exhausted. 
We are sorry for it. Some of her happiest eiforts 
have been employed upon the description of them. 
Miss Edgeworth knows the Irish nation thoroughly, 
not merely in those broader and more general 
characteristics that distuiguish it from this and 
fiom all other nations, but in those nicer shades 
that mark each class of society. All the materials 
are drawn from her own stores, and she is never 
obliged to supply the defect of actual observation 
by hearsay or conjecture. Perfect acquamtance 
with her subject gave freedom and originality to 
every stroke of her pencil, and enabled her at once 
to delight and mstruct the public, to which, 
generally speaking, the pecuhar manners of Ireland 
were less known than those of Otaheite. Her 
merit was not that of describing what had never 
been described before ; it was greater ; it was 



92 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

that of describing well what had been described 
ill — of substituting accurate, finished resemblances 
for clurasy confused daubings by the sign-post 
artists of modern comedy. 

" But when the scene is purely English, Miss 
Edge worth appears to much less advantage. Like 
the giant, she grows feeble when her strength is 
no longer recruited from her native soil. Iler 
gaiety flags as she recedes from Nature and 
observation. Her comic scenes are diminished in 
number and even in spirit. For the first time she 
has had recourse to exaggeration to produce 
interest, and tried the effect of high colouring and 
artificial contrasts to supply the place of those 
natural tints which she used to represent with so 
much grace."* 

" Patronage" is by no means as good a tale as 
"Ennui" or "The Absentee;" indeed, we question 
whether Miss Edgeworth has ever written any- 
thing better than the latter story. As an 
instance of keen powers of observation it stands 
unrivalled, and was written with the idea of 
exposing the folly and misery of renouncing the 
respectable position of country ladies and gentle- 
men to push, through intolerable expense and more 
intolerable scorn, into the fashionable world of 



* Quarterly Review, J anu&rj, 1814. 



MARIA EDGEWOBTH. 93 

London society. The plot of the story is the 
worst part of it, its excellence mainly depending 
upon the inimitably hnmorous sketches with 
which it abounds. In " Larry Brady, the Post- 
Boy," we have one of the best delineations of Irish 
cliara,cter ever conceived. 

Until 1817, Miss Edge worth did not again 
publish anything. But in the meantime she had 
not been idle, for almost simultaneously appeared 
" Harrington" and " Ormond," together with 
" Tlioughts on Bores," a work in two volumes, 
Avith the inevitable preface by her father. It was 
the last thing ever Bichard Lovell Edgeworth 
wrote. On the 13tli of June, 1817, he died, to 
the inconsolable grief of his family. It is perfectly 
marvellous to reflect, upon looking through this 
egoist's memoirs, how his various wives and 
children believed in him. 1'hey considered him 
the greatest and the best of men ; and when the 
grave closed over him, they felt the loss which 
they sustained was iiTeparable. Miss Edgeworth 's 
grief was so intense that it caused a disease in 
her eyes, which quite incapacitated her from even 
writing a letter for some months. However, 
towards the latter end of the year, she was so far 
recovered as to be able to prepare for the press 
her "Comic Dramas." 

When Sheridan read Miss Edgeworth 's novel of 



94 ILLUSTRIOUS IRTSHWOMEN. 

"Belinda," he was so struck with the dramatic 
situations which it contained, that he advised the 
writer to turn her attention to writing for the 
stage. But even the clear-headed Sheridan made 
a mistake in this respect. It is one thing to be 
able to write a dramatic novel; but it is quite a 
different matter to keep up the interest of a 
drama, which depends for its excellence upon the 
interest being sustained by means of unflagging 
incident. The paths of the novelist and dramatist 
widely diverge, although, at first, they appear to 
coincide. Scarcely any author has pursued both 
paths with eminent success — and Maria Edgeworth 
is no exception to the rule. 

As stage-plays, these three " Comic Dramas" are 
failures. They fail in the essentials of clear plot 
and rapid change of incident ; although the dia- 
logue and character painting can scarcely be sur- 
passed . They did not add to her literary reputation ; 
and were unsparingly criticised in The Quarterly. 

From some inexplicable cause, this latter 
magazine — which, if it had pointed out errors in 
Miss Edgeworth's works, at least had done theii- 
merits ample justice — now completely changed its 
tone. In October, 1820, when Miss Edgeworth 
brought out her father's Memoirs, The Quarterly 
criticised them with extreme bitterness, and with 
an entire absence of the acumen and justice witli 



MARIA EBGEWOBTII. 95 

which its reviews had hitlierto been characterised. 
Every recorded circumstance in the two vohimes 
is satirically expatiated upon and distorted in a 
maimer which is scarcely credible. Mr. Edgeworth 
is charged with the violation of every sacred moral 
obligation, with hypocrisy, and with deliberate 
mitruths. His four marriages— to wliich the 
reviewer has ingeniously prefixed a fifth — were 
made the mark for much indignation, real or 
simulated. " This infamous article," as Dumont 
called it when writing to Miss Edgeworth, excited 
universal attention ; for there was a stronfy Edefe- 
worthian clique who had pinned their faith to the 
loquacious Irishman. Mrs. Marcet spoke of it 
as a subject which made her blood boil, and 
"roused every feeling of contempt and abhorrence." 
]\liss Edgeworth herself seems to have taken the 
whole a.ffair more philosophically than did either 
her friends or lier relatives. " I will never lose 
another night's sleep or a moment's thought on 
the Quarterly Bevieiv," she vsaites to her aunt ; 
" I have never read, and I never will read it ;" 
and she kej^t her word. 

Tlie same year (1820) Miss Edgeworth went to 
Paris with her two step-sisters. The doors of all 
the leading hotels and salons flew open at their 
ai)proach ; including those of the Faubourg St, 
Germain, for tlic name of tlie Abbd Edgeworth 



ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



was a passport to the houses of the ancient noblesse. 
Amongst the French he had been familiarly called 
the Abbe de Firmont ; a name he assumed from 
the difficulty they found in pronouncing the name 
of "Edgeworth."* 

" Madame Maria Edgewortli, et Mesdemoiselles 
ses soeurs," to quote the form of visiting-card tliey 
adopted, seem to have enjoyed this visit to Paris. 
They knew everybody worth knowing. Leaving 
Paris, they proceeded to Switzerland, and stayed 
for a short time at Geneva, wliere they made 
the acquaintance of Madame de Stacl. IVJJss 
Edffeworth records in one of lier letters that 
she was "very happy" in the society of tlie 
latter. 

After their return to England Gliomas ]\ro()ro 
met Miss Edgeworth at Bowood, and complacently 
enters in his diary, " Blie was mucli affected at my 
singing." Again, he speaks of meeting her at a 
breakfast at Ilogers's — " Went, and found Miss 
Edgeworth, Luttrell, Lord Normanby, and Sharjje ; 
Miss Edgeworth, with all her cleverness, anything 
but agreeable. The moment any one begins to 
speak, off she starts too, seldom more than a 
sentence behind them, and in general contrives to 



* Byron spetiks of some Russian or Polish names that would 
descend to posterity, if posterity could only pronounce them. 



MARIA EDGEWOBTH. 97 

distance every speaker. Neither does what she 
say, tliough of course very sensible, make up for 
tins over-activity of tongue," 

Coukl anything be more cliaracteriatic of Thomas 
Moore's inordinate vanity ! He judged people sub- 
jectively, not ol)jccfively, forming his estimate of 
tliem from his own feelings, sympathies and antipa- 
thies, and not from their quahties, merits and de- 
merits. We can scarcely be very far wrong in sup- 
])osing that Miss Edgewortii took the wind out of 
liis sails, by anticipating him in a favourite story, 
or addinof a touch of Irish humour wliich he had let 
slip. Miss Edgeworth was not anxious for display 
of the kind Moore attributes to her. Lord Byron 
says her conversation was as quiet as herself. 
Lockhart, wlio was fastidious to priggishness, 
Avas deliglitcd witli her; and Sir Walter Scott 
says of her, — " It is scarcely possible to say more 
of tliis very remarkable person than that she not 
only completely answered, but exceeded, the ex- 
jiectations whicli I had formed. I am particularly 
pleased with her naivete and good-humoured ardour 
of mind whicli she unites with such formidable 
powers of acute observation." 

Revisiting London in 1822, Miss Edgeworth 
found herself a,<yain the centre of a brilliant social 
and literary clitpie. Every year slie became more 
and more the fashion, and every year was more 

VOL. II. H 



98 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

and more lionised. " In all societies," says Cotton, 
" it is advisable to associate, if possible, with the 
highest. In the grand theatre of life a box-ticket 
takes you through the house." Miss Edgeworth 
and her sisters seem to have acted upon this 
maxim. We find them in one day spending the 
morning at Newgate with Mrs. Fry, receiving Sir 
Humphrey Davy in the afternoon, taken by Whit- 
bread to the ladies' gallery in the House of 
Commons, and finishing up with Almack's in the 
evenino; ! 

" Fanny and Haiiiet have been with me at that 
grand exclusive paradise of fashion, Almack's. 
Observe that the present Duchess of Hutland, 
who had been a few months away from town, and 
had offended the lady patronesses by not visiting 
them, could not at her utmost get a ticket from 
any one of them, and was kept out, to her amazing 
mortification ! This may give you some idea of 
the importance attached to admission to Almack's. 
Kind Mrs. Hope got tickets for us from Lady 
Gwydir and Lady Cowper (Lady Palmerston) ; 
the patronesses can only give tickets to those whom 
they personally know ; on that plea they avoided 
the Duchess of Rutland's application ; she had not 
visited them — ' they really did not know her 
Grace,' — and Lady Cowper swallowed a camel for 
me, because she did not really know me. I had 



MARIA EBGEWOllTH. 99 

met lier, but had never been introduced to her 
until I saw her at Ahnack's." 

Here they met Lord Londonderry, who intro- 
duced Lady Londonderry, and conversed enthu- 
siastically upon "Castle liackrent." She speaks 
writh a sort of maternal pride about her two pretty 
stepsisters, and considered that Fanny was, " if 
not the prettiest, certainly the most elegant- 
looking young woman in the room." It was 
during this visit to London that Miss Edgeworth 
became acquainted with the famous Lydia White, 
at whose house she met Mrs. Siddons, with whom 
she became very intimate. " She gave us," says 
Miss Edgeworth, " the history of her first acting 
of Lady Macbeth, and of her resolving, in the sleep 
scene, to lay down the candlestick, contrary to the 
[)recedont of Mrs. Pritchard and all the traditions, 
before she began to wash her hands and say, * Out, 
vile spot !' Sheridan knocked violently at her 
door during the five minutes she had desired to 
have entirely to herself to compose her spirits 
before the play began. He burst in, and prophe- 
sied that she would ruin herself for ever if she 
persevered in this resolution to lay down the 
candlestick ! She persisted, however, in her 
determination — succeeded, was applauded, and 
Sheridan begged her pardon. She described 
well the awe she felt, and the power of the 

n 2 



100 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

excitement given to her by the sight of Burke, 
Fox Sheridan, and Sir Joshua Reynolds in the 
pit." 

In 1823, Miss Edgeworth visited Sir Walter 
Scott, at Abbots ford. " Everything about you is 
exactly what one ought to have wit enough to 
dream !" she exclaimed, when her host met her at 
the archway. She enjoyed this visit thoroughly, 
and so did Scott, who always referred it as being 
one of the pleasantest episodes in his life. So well 
he might : for, indirectly, he owed his fortune, and 
the feudal state which he assumed, to Maria Edge- 
worth. Sir Walter Scott, the novelist, may be re- 
garded as the immediate offspring of the genius of 
the Irish authoress. Her delineations of Irish 
character in her " Castle llackrent" made so deep 
an impression upon him that he determmed to do 
a like service for his own country. With this 
object in view he commenced " Waverley,'*' and as 
the work progressed he used to read the chapters 
to his friend James BaUantyne, " that astounding 
little liar,"* who never pleased the author better 
than when he exclaimed, " Positively this is equal 
to Miss Edgeworth." When the novel was pub- 
Ushed, Scott sent Miss Edgeworth a copy "from 



* In his will he left Sir Walter Scott a legacy of l[],000l. ITia 
affairs having been looked into, he was proved never to have been 
poasessed of that sum. Moreover, he died insolvent. 



MARIA EDGEWOBTH. 101 

the author of Waveiiey;" he kept the secret of 
authorship in the letter; but m truth he revealed it 
to her, 

" We have heard Waverley called a Scotcli 
Castle Kackrent," says Jeffrey, "and we have our- 
selves alluded to a certain resemblance between 
these works; but we must beg leave to explain that 
the resemblance consists only in this, that the one 
is a description of the peculiarities of Scottish 
manners, as the other is of those of Ireland ; and 
that wc are far from placing on the same level the 
merits and qualities of the works. Waverley is of 
a much higher strain, and may be safely placed far 
above the amusing vulgarity of Castle Kackrent, 
and by the side of Ennui or the Absentee, the best 
undoubtedly of Miss Edgeworth's compositions."* 

In 1825, when Sir Walter Scott made a tour 
through Ireland, he returned Miss Edgeworth's 
visit ; staying at Edgeworthstown, where a briUiant 
coterie had been invited to meet him, and making 
daily excursions through the surrounding country. 
A peasant girl, who was exhibiting some of the 
lions of the neighbourhood, was told the strange 
gentleman was a poet. " Poet r she exclaimed, in 
indignation, "the divil a bit of him! but an 
honourable gentleman, for he gave me half-a- 



* Quarterhj Ixevicw, July, 1814. Vol. xi. 



102 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

crown !" Of tlie harmonious life of tlie domestic 
circle at Edgewortlistown he speaks in enthusiastic 
terms. Miss Edgeworth, togetlier with her ste])- 
brother and stepsister, were easily induced to join 
Sir Walter Scott and his friends on their tour, 
during which many interesting and amusing in- 
cidents occurred. When at Limerick tliey were 
very anxious to visit a well-known demesne in the 
neighbourhood ; and, ignorant of tlie fact that the 
master of the house had died the night before, per- 
mission to enter the grounds was requested in the 
joint names of Miss Edgeworth and Sir Walter 
Scott. The reply was as follows : — 

" Mrs. presents her kind compliments to 

Mr. , and much regrets that she cannot show 

the pictures to-day, as Major died yesterday 

evening by apoplexy ; which Mrs. the more 

regrets, as it will prevent her having the honour 
to see Sir Walter Scott and Miss Edgeworth." 
Sir Walter Scott — who had a story to suit every 
occasion — said this lady reminded him of a woman 
in Fife, who, summing up the misfortunes of a 
black year in her history, said to him, " Let me 
see, sir — first we lost our wee callant — and then 
Jenny — and then the gudemau himsel died — and 
then the coo died too, poor hizzey ! — but to be 
sure, her hide brought me fifteen shillings !" 

In 1834, Miss Edgeworth published her last. 



MABIA EDGEWOBTR. 103 

and — considered bj some — her best novel of 
*' Helen," — and then, true to her didactic instincts, 
closed her literary career by the publication of a 
juvenile tale, called " Orlandino," The latter pos- 
sessed the common defect of all her juvenile books, 
inasmuch as it demanded too much from both 
[)upil and teacher. Scott thought so, and said 
to Joanna Baillie, — -" I do not like her last book 
on education {' Harry and Lucy'), considered as 
a general work. She should liave limited the title 
to ' Educaiion in Natural Philosophy,' or some 
such term, for there is no great use in teaching 
children in general to roof houses or build bridges, 
whicl), after all, a carpenter or mason does a great 
deal better at two shillings and sixpence a day. 
Your ordiniry Harry should be kept to his gram- 
mar, and }Dur Lucy, of most common occurrence, 
would be tept employed on her sampler, instead 
of wasting wood and cutting their fingers, which 
I am convjiced they did, though tlieu' historian 
says nothiig of it." 

As the most fertile, popular, and influential 
educational writer and novelist of her own age or 
any succeeding period, Maria Edgeworth bears 
away the jalm. She was the first who devoted 
her talents to the especial department of juvenile 
literature ; she inaugurated tlie novel of life as it is, 
not as life under exceptional circumstances ; and, 



104 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

crowning glory of all, Maria Edgeworth drew 
forth Sir Walter Scott's abilities as a novelist. 
The general character of her productions was so 
ably and so exhaustively discussed in her lifetime, 
and the traditional estimate of them is so fixed 
and unanimous, that little remains to be said upon 
the subject. She possessed the finest powers of 
observation, most penetrating common sense, a 
high moral tone consistently maintained, fertility 
of invention, undeviating rectitude of purpose, 
varied and accurate knowledge, a clear style, 
exquisite humour, and some pathos. What she 
could not help wanting with her mjitter-of-fact 
understanding and practical turn of mind, are 
poetry, romance, and passion. In her opinion, the 
better part of life and conduct is discretion. She 
has no toleration for self-indulgence nor criminal 
weakness ; neither has she sympathy with lofty, 
defiant, uncalculating heroism or greatness ; slie 
never snatches a vagabond grace ])eyonJ the rcacli 
of prudence, nor does she ever arrest m by scenes 
of melodramatic intensity. In her attempts at 
historic painting she signally fails. JIa* gaze was 
too superficial to admit of much depth. Miss 
Edgeworth is worthy of the highest admiration 
of the soberer kind. She does not nspire en- 
thusiasm ; and she would have been even more 
useful — as she would have been infintely more 



MARIA EDGEWOBTH. 105 

attractive — had she thoujxht and written less about 
utility. 

Miss Edgeworth's chief works are : — Castle 
Rackrent : Essay on Irish Bulls : Essay on Self- 
Justification : Forrester : The Prussian Vase :. The 
Good Aunt : Angelina : The Good French Gover- 
ness : Mademoiselle Panache : The Knapsack : 
Lame Jervas : The Will : The Limerick Gloves : 
Out of Debt, out of Danger : The Lottery : 
Kosanna : Murad the Unlucky : The Manufac- 
turers : Harry and Lucy : The Contrast : The 
Grateful Negro : To-morrow : Ennui : The Dun : 
Mana3uvring : Vivian : The Absentee : Madame 
de Fleury : Emile de Coulanges : The Modern 
Griselda : Belinda : Leonora : Letters : Patronage : 
Comic Dramas : Harrington : Thoughts on Bores : 
Ormond : Helen : Orlandino ; and the last volume 
of her father's Memoirs, 

The j3rivate life of Miss Edgeworth was as 
decorous and as irreproachable as was that of any 
one of lier own most unexceptionable heroines. 
A large family resided under the hospitable roof at 
Edgeworthstown, united by the closest ties oT 
alTectionate harmony. Maria Edgeworth was the 
good fairy of the establishment ; and Mrs. S. C. 
Hall, the friend of her later years, who visited her 
at Edgeworthstown, bears ample and lovuig tes- 
timony to her unselfishness and active watchful- 



106 * ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

ness for the comfort and happiness of all around 
her.* In person Miss Edgeworth was very small, 
her face was pale and tliin, her features irregular, 
and her expressive eyes of a bright blue, ller 
voice was low and pleasant, and her manner 
entirely free from affectation. 

On May 7th, 1849, being then in her eighty- 
third year, Miss Edgeworth writes to Mrs. Richard 
Buller, — " I am heartily obliged and delighted by 
your being such a goose and Hichard such a 
gander as to be frightened out of your wits at my 
going up the ladder to take off the top of tlie 
clock." Miss Edgeworth had actually performed 
such a feat, apparently emulous of the traditional 
fate of the old Countess of Desmond. 

On the 21st of the same month she complained 
in the morning of not feeling as well as usual. A 
note was despatched to her physician, but Ijefore 
he could arrive Maria Edgeworth had quietly 
breathed her last. She died in her eighty-third 
year, full of years and honours. A few days after- 
wards the following notice of her appeared in the 
London Morning Chronicle : — 

" The death of one who has done such solid 
service as Miss Edgeworth rendei'ed to the cause 
of education and social morality cannot be recorded 

* FicZe Edgeworthstown, by Mra. S. C. Hall. " Liddell's Living 
Age." Vol. xxii. p. 320. 



MARIA EDGEWOBTH. 107 

without a passing word of retrospective praise. 
Miss Edgewortli had long since ceased to take an 
active part in life, or in that world of literature of 
which she was once so bright an ornament. But 
she has taken her rank, and will keep it so long as 
youth have to be instructed in the elements of 
social morality. As a woman of singular intel- 
lectual acquirements, she takes her place by the 
side of some of the most distinguished of her sex 
who have adorned the present era." 





FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS. 

Born, a.d. 1794. Died, a.d. 1835. 

MONGST her many gifted daughters tliere 
is not one whicli Ireland has greater 
reason to feel proud of than the subject 
of this sketch. There is no record of any other 
Irishwoman — save the " Speranza"* of our own 
day and the " Psyche" of three-quarters of a century 
ago — having so successfully wooed the Muse. Few 
writers have been so fortunate in their literary 
careers as was Felicia Dorothea Hemans. Adverse 
or unjust criticism was a thing she had but little 
experience of, save when — at the early age of 
eleven — she published her first volume of poems, for 
in after years the reviewers seemed to have banded 
together to endeavour to find expressions sti'ong 
enough illustrative of their admiration of her 
genius. She was essentially a Christian poet, and 
in perusing her voluminous works the reader 
cannot fail to be impressed by her marvellous 



* Jane Francesca, Lady Wilde. 



FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS. 109 

perception of the true and the beautiful. These 
attributes, added to her extreme womanliness, con- 
stitute the chief charms of her poetry. Whatever 
subject si 10 descautod u^Jon, or whatever scene she 
described, lier metaphors are always of refined and 
exceeding beauty. Her moral perceptions were 
so pure and noble that she seemed to shed a 
heavenly radiance upon the earthly subjects of her 
verse. All her poetry — from her very earliest 
efforts — has a tinge of sadness j)revading it ; as 
though she ever realised the fleeting nature of 
earthly beauty. " She saw the perfectness of the 
Creator's works in their most attractive forms ; 
but she also saw that Death was in the world, and 
that all which was made was subject to the 
Destroyer." 

Felicia Doi-othea Browne was born in Duke 
Street, Liverpool, on the 25th of September, 1794. 
She was the second daughter of an Irishman 
named Browne, who carried on an extensive 
business as a wine merchant. Mr. Browne had 
married a lady named Wagner, of mixed Venetian 
and Italian descent, and to this mingling of 
nationalities Mrs. Ilemans afterwards attributed 
much of her romantic temperament. Unfortunate 
pecuniary speculations — joined, it is to be feared, 
to improvident habits — so reduced Mr. Browne's 
means tliat lie was obliged to give up his business 



110 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

in Liverpool and retire with his wife and five 
children to St. Asaph, in Wales. PTere tliey lived 
in great seclusion, and Mr. Browne dying soon 
after, his widow and cliildren appeared to have 
less reason to sorrow for his death tlian for the 
destitute condition to which tliey had been reduced 
before that event took place. 

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Browne, 
who was a woman of high intellectual acquirements, 
devoted her time to the education of her children. 
Nothing pleased her so mucli as to gatlier her 
little ones around lier, and to tell them some story 
culled from the German legends learnt in her own 
earlier days, or some chivalrous tale of Yenetia. 
Her children fully appreciated her love and tender- 
ness for them, and her anxiety concerning their 
mental training. All through life her gifted 
daughter, Felicia, was passionately attached to 
her, and her first poetical effort, written at the 
age of eight, was addressed to her mother, and 
runs thus : — 

ON MY MOTHER'S BTTITHDAY. 

Cliul in all their briglilcst grocn, 
Thin day the verdant fiolds are acen ; 
The tuneful birds begin their lay, 
To celebrate thy natal day. 

The breeze is still, the sea is calm, 
And the whole scene combines to charm ; 
The flowers revive, this charming May, 
Because it is thy natal day. 



FELICIA DOROTHEA UEMANS. Ill 

The sky is blue, the day serene, 
And only pleasure now is seen; 
The rose, the pink, the tulip gay, 
Combine to bless thy natal day. 

The young poetess henceforth constantly ex- 
pressed her tlioughts in verse. All her earher 
poems were chielly addressed to the members of 
her own family, to familiar friends, or had f(jr their 
themes some of the objects of interest in the neigli- 
bourhood, but seldom dealt with abstract subjects. 
These poems, written at intervals between her 
eighth and her thirteenth years, were collected and 
published in 1808, under the title of "Early 
Blossoms." It was upon this occasion only that 
she tasted the bitterness of incisive and unsparing 
criticism. " When the severe sentence thus passed 
on these childish effusions had been announced," 
says one of her friends,* " theii' little author was 
put to bed for several days, weeping, and heart-sick 
of vexation and disappointment. This was the 
first and the last time that she tasted the bitter- 
ness of criticism, "t 



* Mrs. Lawrence, of Wavertree Hall. 
t The criticism referred to ran as follows : — " We hear that 
these poems are the ' genuine productions of a young lady, written 
between tlio ages of eight and thirteen,' and we do not feel inclined 
to question tlie intelligence ; but although the fact may insure 
them an indnlgcnt rcco]ition from all who have' children dear,' yet, 
when a little girl publishes a large quarto, we are disposed to 
examine before we admit her claims to public attention. Many of 
Miss Browne's compositions arc extremely jejune. Ilowevcr, though 



.112 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

But these early poems show a prodigahty and 
wealth of fancy and metaphor which justify the 
criticism being condemned as an unjust one. Her 
" Invocation to the Fairies" is a wonderful pro- 
duction to have emanated from the hrain of a 
cliild ; and the following " Ode to Liberty" was 
surely earnest of the genius which expanded so 
brilliantly and soared to such heiglits in after 
years : — 

ODE TO LIBERTY. 

Wliere the bold rock majestic towers on high, 

Projecting to the sky ; 
Where the impetuons torrent's rapid course 

Dashes with headlong force ; 
Where scenes less wild, less awful, meet the eye, 

And cultured vales and cottages appear ; 
Where softer tints the mellow landscape dye, 
More simply beautiful, more fondly dear ; 
There sportive Liberty delights to rove. 

To rove unseen. 
In the dell or in the grove, 

'Midet woodlands green. 



Miss Browne's poems contain some erroneous and some pitiable 
lines, wo must praise the ' lleflections on a Ruined Castle,' and the 
poetic strain in which tliey are delivered. 'J'he lines to ' ratriotiam' 
contain good thoughts ami forcible images; and if tlie youtliliil 
author were to content lierself for some years with reading instead 
of writing, we should open any future work from her pen with an 
expectation of pleasure, founded on our recollection of this publica- 
tion ; though we must, at the same time, observe that premature 
talents are not always to be considered as signs of future excellence. 
The honeysuckle attains maturity before the oak." — Monthly Review, 
1809. 



FELICIA DOROTHEA REMANS. 113 

And when placid eve advancing, 

Faintly shadows all the ground ; 
Liberty, with Hebe dancing, ^ 

Wanders through the meads around. 

Fair wreaths of brightest flowers she loves to twine, 

Moss-rose, and bluebell wild ; 
The pink, the hyacinth with these combine, 

And azure violet, Nature's sweetest child! 

When the uiooubeam, silvery streaming, 

Pierces through the myi'tle shade ; 
Then, her eye with pleasure beaming, 

She trips along the sylvan glade. 

She loves to sing in accents soft. 
When the woodlark soars aloft ; 
She loves to wake the sprightly horn, 
And swell the joyful note to celebrate the morn! 

In the dell, or in the gi'ove, 
Lil)crty delights to rove ; 
By the ruined moss-grown tower, 
By the woodland, or the bower ; 
On the summit thence to view 
The landscape clad in varied hue ; 
By the hedgerow on the lawn, 
S2)orting witli the ])layfu] fawn ; 
Where the winding river flows, 
And the pensile osier grows. 
In the cool impervious grove, 
Liberty delights to rove. 

The following year Mrs. Browne removed with 
her family to Bronwylfn,, in Flintshire, in order to 
afford her children additional educational advan- 
tages. Here the industrious young poetess pur- 
sued her studies mdefatigably. French, German, 
Spanish, and Portuguese were amongst her studies. 
She had an extraordinary talent for acquiring 

VOL. II. 1 



114 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

languages, and there was scarcely a modern 
European tongue which she could not read 
fluently. Her numerous translations from the 
literature of many lands attest this, as does also 
the remarkable manner in which she catches the 
spirit of tlie various poets of whom slie has given 
imitations or translations. She was also a student 
of German literature ; but the warmtli of colouring 
and the halo of romance surroundinsf the effusions 
of the Italian and Spanish poets were more con- 
genial to her. Nor were other branches of her 
education neMected. Felicia Dorothea Browne 

o 

both drew and painted M'^ell ; in addition, she 
evinced a decided taste for music, but never 
devoted to it tlie time necessary in order to 
become a first-rate performer. The influence of 
her residence in the Principality is veiy distinctly 
evinced in Miss Browne's poems written at this 
period. The grand, lonely, and romantic characfcei- 
of the scenery with which she was surrounded 
made a deep impression upon her sensitive nature ; 
and many of her best poetical pieces are u[)()ii 
Welsh subjects. 

Whilst living at Bronwylfa, the young poetess 
made the acquaintance of Captain Hemans. She 
was then but fifteen or sixteen years of age, and 
in the first flush of that beauty which was destined 
to fade so early. " The mantling bloom of her 



FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS. 115 

cheeks," says Mrs. Hale, " was shaded by a pro- 
fusion of natural ringlets, of a rich golden brown ; 
and the ever-varying expression of her brilliant 
eyes gave a changeful play to her countenance, 
which would have made it impossible for any 
painter to do justice to it. No wonder that so 
fair a creature should excite the admiration of the 
gallant Captain." They were both very much 
in love with each otlier ; but prudence forbade 
their immediate marriage. Captain Hemans was 
suddenly called to Spain with his regiment, and 
upon his return in 1812 they were married. 

The same year, Mrs. Hemans published her 
poems upon the Domestic Affections. They were 
the last of what may be termed her juvenile pro- 
ductions ; and there are few lines or thoughts in 
the wliole collection which excel any to be found 
in her earlier volume of poems. " The Ruin and 
its Flowers" is by far the best. It was written on 
an excursion to tlie old fortress of Dyganwy, the 
remains of which are situated on a bold promon- 
tory near the entrance to the river Conway, and 
whose ivied walls, now fast mouldering into 
oblivion, once bore their part bravely in the 
defence of Wales. They are further endeared to 
the lovers of song and tradition as having echoed 
the comj)laints of the captive Elphin, and re- 
sounded to the harp of Taliesln. 

I 2 



116 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Never was there a more ill-assorted marriage 
than that of Captain and Mrs. Hemans. He was 
prosaic and practical to a fault ; she was equally 
imaginative and unpractical. She carried her 
romantic feelings and ideas into the commonest 
walks of life, where they are not always treated 
with consideration, and are, moreover, often looked 
upon as being insupportably tedious. No doubt 
there were faults upon both sides. She was in- 
capable of conforming to the ordinary rules of dull 
domestic Hfe ; and, from what can be gathered in 
a fragmentary manner, he seems to have gone into 
the opposite extreme, and to have made no allow- 
ance for her peculiar mental construction. Captain 
Ilemaiis married a young, lovely, highly-cultured, 
enthusiastic poetess, and he was disappointed when 
she did not at once settle down to the very mun- 
dane matters of suckling fools and chronicling 
small-beer. "Almost daily facts," says one of 
Mrs. Hemans's biographers, "assure us tliat a 
female assuming a decided literary character — 
whether the assumption spring from an early 
attachment and devotedness to learning, or I'rom 
the hope of winning without effort the heart of 
some amateur of the same craft — whether it be 
adopted before the tender passion buds, oi- after it 
has begun to blossom — stands the least chance, in 
the present state of male opinions on this subject, 



FELICIA DOROTHEA REMANS. 117 

of accomplislimg her object, and becoming a wife 
of any importance in tlie world. The present and 
the past age have been distinguished by females 
no less honoured for their talents than beloved for 
their virtues ; but most of them either died or are 
living in single blessedness, while the few who are 
remembered or known as wives were the least 
distinguished of the entire class as literary 
women," 

Notwithstanding the want of sympathy between 
them, and the consequent absence of harmony, 
this unecpially-yoked pair lived together for some 
ya'irs, and five sons were born unto them. But 
even the children were not j^eacemakers ; the 
breach between husband and wife daily grew 
wider, and at length they separated with mutual 
consent. Captain Hemans went to reside at Kome, 
and his Avife, to whom he made a liberal allowance, 
returned to her mother, with whom she lived until 
the death of the latter. 

At the time of the separation Mrs. Hemans was 
but six-and-twenty, and her name was already 
well known and welcomed as a favourite poetess. 
In 18 IG she had published her two first important 
poems — viz., " The Restoration of the Works of 
Art to Italy," and " Modern Greece," Few poets 
of that day, or, indeed, of even later times, have 
written about these Southern lands without the 



118 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

influence of Byron's works cropping up somewhere. 
The poems of Mrs. Hemans are striking excep- 
tions, for she writes with a loftiness of purpose 
and a purity of sentiment pecuhaily lier own. 
The publication of the two afore-mentioned poems 
stamped Mrs. Hemans as a poetess of the first 
order.* Indeed, her actual career as an aiithoress 
may be said to have commenced when they 
appeared. Her earlier and very juvenile pro- 



* " In our reviews of poetical pi-oductioiis, the better efforts of 
genius hold out to ixs a task at once more useful and delightful than 
those of inferior merit. In the former the beautiful predominate, and 
expose while they excuse the blemishes. But the public taste would 
receive no benefit from a detail of mediocrity, relieved only by the 
censure of faults uncompensated by excellences. We have great 
pleasure in calling the attention of our readers to the beautiful 
poem before lis, which we believe to be the work of the same lady 
who last year put her name to the second edition of another poem 
on a kindred subject — ' The Restoration of .the Works of Art to 
Italy' — namely, Mrs. Hemans, of North Wales. That the author's 
fame has not altogether kept pace with her merit, we are inclined 
to think is a reproach to the public. Poetry is at present expe- 
riencing the fickleness of fashion, and nuiy bo said to have had its 
day. Very recently, the readimj public, as the phrase is, was 
immersed in poetry, but seoms to have had enough ; and cxciipting 
always that portion of it who are found to relish genuine ixHstry oii 
its own intrinsic account, and will never tiro of the exquisite enjoy- 
ment which it affords, the said public seldom read poetry at all. 
Our readers will now cease to wonder that an author like the 
present, who has had no higher aim than to regale the imagination 
with imagery, warm the heart with sentiment and feeling, and 
delight the ear with music, without the foreign aid of tale or fable, 
has hitherto written to a select few, and passed almost unnoticed 
by the multitude." — Blackwood's Mcujaziney 1810.. 



FELICIA DOROTHEA REMANS. 119 

ductlons are chiefly matters of curiosity, altliou^li 
giving good earnest of tlie greater things which 
followed. Her intellectual career may be divided 
into three parts — the juvenile, the classical 
(commencing with the publication of " The Ile- 
storation of the Works of Art"), and the romantic, 
wliicli connnences with " The Forest Sanctuary," 
and includes " The Records of Woman," and all 
the later efforts of her muse. 

In "Modern Greece" Mrs. Hemans displays a 
chaste splendour of versification and imagery 
which none of her later works have achieved. 
Moreover, no other work of hers shows more 
clearly the wide range of her reading. Ancient 
iind modern history, travels, the literature of other 
lands, all were laid under contribution. It is 
doubtful wlicLher M.i's. Hemans ever wrote any- 
thing more sublime than her " Modern Greece." 
After recounting in glorious verse the vain 
st)-uggles of the Greeks for liberty, she says ; — 

Now is that strife a tale of vanislied clays, 
With mightiei- things forgotten soon to lie; , 

Yot oft hath minstrel sung, in lofty lays, 
DccJs less adventurous, energies less high. 
And the dread struggle's fearful memory still 
O'er each wild rock a wilder aspect throws ; 
Sheds darker shadows o'er the frowning hill, 
More solemn quiet o'er the glen's repose ; 
Lends to the rustling pines a deeper moan, 
And the hoarse river's voice a murmur not its own. 



120 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

For stillness now — tlie stillness of the dead — 
Hath wrapt that conflict's lone and awful scene. 
And man's forsaken homes, in ruin spread, 
Tell where the storming of the cliffs hath been. 
And there, o'er wastes magnificently rude, 
What race may rove, unconscious of the chain ? 
Those realms have now no desert unsubdued, 
Where Freedom's banner may be reared again : 
Sunk are the ancient dwellings of her fame. 
The children of her sons inherit but their name. 

Mrs. Henmns was an omnivorous reader. It 
has been said tliat the booksellers and libraiians 
of every place she resided in could prove — more by 
the works they were not able to procure for her 
than by those they could furnish — the extent and 
variety of her studies. " She explored every 
possible and probable source whence she might 
extract fresh materials to aid and embody her 
bright imaginings ; while her own fancy was rich 
and glowing, and as her piety advanced essayed 
more lofty flights, she drew as largely from the 
stores of others as they could appropriately furnish, 
or her time and power of thought could enable 
her to make their best sentiments her own. And 
this course she pursued at jdl times, in season and 
out of season ; by night and day ; on her chair, and 
sofa, and bed ; at home and abroad ; invalid, con- 
valescent, and in perfect hdalth ; in rambles, and 
journeys, and visits ; in company with her husband, 
and when her children were around her ; at hours 



FELICIA .DOROTHEA HEMAN8. 121 

usually devoted to domestic claims, as well as in 
the solitude of the study and bower. Could 
such a mind symbolise with that of a plodding 
commonplace gentleman, thrown by the cessation 
of war into a state of official inactivity, and pos- 
sessing a larger share than usually falls to the lot 
of one military man in a thousand of the cool, 
calculating ' utilitarianism' of secluded life ?" 

In Blackwood^s Magazine, for Ajjril, 1818, 
appeared Mrs. Hemans's exquisite " Stanzas on the 
Death of the Princess Charlotte." It is one of 
the chief w^orks of this period of her career, and is 
the first poem in which the womanly tenderness 
of tlie writer's heart is betrayed. Hitherto her 
productions had been more platonic and classical, 
but in these elegiac verses she is all a woman. 
Upon their publication the name of the author was 
on every lip. The poem was enthusiastically read, 
and studied, and wept over ; it appealed to the 
hearts of all, as her former important poems had 
appealed to the intellects of her readers. Many 
an one besides he to whom allusion is made in the 
following lines echoed the sentiment of them : — 

Oil ! there are griefs for Nature too intense, 
Whose first rude shock but stupefies the soul ; 
Nor hath the fragile and o'erlaboured sense 
Strength e'en to feel, at once, their dread control. 
But when 'tis past, that still and speechless hour, 
Of the scal'd bosom and the tearless eye, 



122 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Then the roused niind awakes, with tenfold power 

To grasp the fuhiess of its ."igony ! 

Its death-like torpor vanished — and its doom, 

To cast its own dark hues o'er life and Nature's bloom. 

And such /ws lot, whom thou hast loved and left, 

Spirit ! thus early to thy home recalled ! 

So sinks the heart, of hope and thee bereft, 

A warrior's heart ! which clanger ne'er appalled. 

Years may pass on — and, as they roll along, 

Mellow those pangs which now his bosom rend ; 

And he once more, with life's unheeding throng, 

May, though alone in soul, in seeming blend ; 

Yet still, the guardian angel of his mind 

Shall thy loved image dwell, in Memory's temple shrined. 

How inexpressibly touching is the aUusion to 
the poor mad old king in the following stanza : — 

Yet there is one who loved thee — and whose soul 

With mild affections Nature fornaed to melt ; 

His mind hath bowed beneath the stern control, 

Of many a grief— but this shall be unfelt ! 

Years have gone by, and given his honoured head 

A diadem of snow ; his eye is dim ; » 

Around him Heaven a solemn cloud hath sj^read — 

The past, the future, are a dream to him ! 

Yet, in the darkness of his fate, alone 

He dwells on earth, while thou, in life's full 2)rido, art gone! 

Close upon the publication of tlie i'ori;g()ing, 
followed the longest and most important of Mrs. 
Hemans's poems, upon Scottish themes. A member 
of the Highland Society, wisliing to raise a suitable 
national monument to the memory of Wallace, 
offered prizes for the thi'ee best poems upon the 
•subject. This was done with the view of giving 
popularity to the project. There were many com- 



FELICIA BOBOTHEA HEMANS. 123 

pefcitors for the prizes, and the judges must have 
had a no less lahorious than amusing task, to 
wade through the piles of manuscript which they 
received. One of the contributions is said to have 
been as long as " Paradise Lost !" But they set 
to work ; tlie labour of reading the manuscripts 
was accomplished, and the first prize unanimously 
awarded to Mrs. Hemans. She had entered the 
lists as a competitor, at the earnest solicitation of 
a friend in Edinburgh, although not in the least 
sanguine of success. The Ettrick Shepherd was 
one of the unsuccessful candidates, and forgot his 
discomfiture in his generous laudation of his rival. 
" This poem," says he, speaking of his own attempt, 
" was hurriedly and reluctantly written, in com- 
pliance with the solicitations of a friend who would 
not be gainsaid, to compete for a prize offered 
by a gentleman for the best poem upon the subject. 
Tlie prize was fin;illy awarded to Mrs. Felicia 
Hemans ; and, as far as the merits of mine went, 
very justly, hers being greatly superior both in 
elegance of thought and composition. Had I been 
constituted the judge myself, I would have given 
hers the preference by many degrees ; and I 
estimated it the more highly as commg from one 
of the people that were the hero's foes, oppressors, 
and destroyers. I think my heart never warmed 
so much to an author for any poem that ever was 



124 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISnWOMEN. 

written." What acceptable praise this must have 
been, coming from such a man as the author of 
" The Queen s -Wake" ! 

There were fifty-seven competitors for the prize : 
that a Scottish prize, for a poem on a subject 
purely Scottish, should have been awarded to a 
candidate of another nationality, is a very clear 
proof of the impartiality and fair dealing of the 
judges. 

" Mrs. Hemans so soon again !" exclaimed the 
Edinburgh Review, when the result of the competi- 
tion was known, " and with a palm in her hand ! 
We welcome her cordially, and rejoice to find tlie 
high opinion of her genius which we lately ex- 
pressed so unequivocally confirmed."* 

About this titne Mrs. Hemans made the ac- 
quaintance of the celebrated Reginald Heber, 
famous throuo-hout the world as the author of the 
well-known missionary hymn, " From Greenland's 
icy mountains." It is the least meritorious, from 



* The same year (1819) was produced a clever and not very lenient 
satire. Alluding to the female writers of the ago, the author Hrst 
mentions Misa Eaillie, and then says : — 

" Next I'd place 
Felicia Hemans, second in the race ; 
I wonder the Reviews, who make such stir 
Oft about rubbibh, never mention her ; 
They might have said, I think, from mere good-breeding. 
Mistress Felicia's works are worth the i-eading." 



FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS. 125 

a literary point of view, of any of his productions, 
but upon it liis popular fame chiefly rests. Mr. 
Keginald Heber was the first literary character 
Mrs. Hemans ever was personally acquainted with ; 
the secluded country life she led, occupied with her 
literary pursuits, her studies, and her children, 
debarring her from any intercourse with the great 
world. Heber admired her classical poems, and 
sought her out in the hope that she might take 
for her themes some of the many subjects to be 
found in Biblical lore. There is no doubt but that 
his advice exercised an influence upon her later 
poetry, which soon developed that sacred and 
seraphic character, by which, amongst female poets, 
she will ever be distmguished. Acting ujDon the 
advice of Mr, Heber, Mrs. Hemans offered her 
" Vespers of Palermo" to the stage. It was acted 
at Covent Garden in 1823, but proved a failure. 
The poet Milman interested himself m its behalf, 
and it was subsequently acted in Edinburgh with 
considerable success, the epilogue being written 
by Sir Walter Scott. 

The enormous number of poems which flowed 
from the pen of the poetess is quite as remarkable 
as the great variety of subjects of which they 
treat. The brightest period of her fame is consi- 
dered that when she published the " Forest 
Sanctuary," and, above all, her "Ilecords of 



126 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



Woman." She was now also in correspondence 
with some of the most noted literary women of 
the age : with Johanna Baillie, Anne Grant, Mary 
Mitford, Caroline Bowles, Mary Howitt, and Mrs. 
Fletcher — formerly Miss Jewsbury — the latter liei- 
devoted and admiring friend. It was certainly 
the most peaceful portion of her life ; but the 
death of her motlier, in 1827, broke up the little 
Welsh household at St. Asaph, and Mrs. Hemans 
decided upon removing to Liverpool. Several 
reasons induced her to come to tliis detormiuittion : 
her own failing health, for which she tliouglit her 
native air might prove beneficial ; her desire again 
to see something of society, and her wish to be in 
the neighbourhood of some good schools for the 
sake of her children. She took a small house in 
the suburbs, and lived there during the three most 
distinguished and important years of her life. The 
house was " the third of a row," and a friend of 
hers gives the following graphic account of Mrs. 
Hemans's visitors : — 

" Scarcely had she settled herself at Wavertree 
than she was besieged by visitors to a number 
positively alarming ; a more heterogeneous com- 
pany cannot be imagined. Many came merely to 
stare at the strange poetess, others called on 
regular morning visits, while a third and worst 
class brought in their hands small cargoes of cut- 



FELICIA DOROTHEA REMANS. 127 

and-dry compliment, and, as she used to declaim, 
had primed themselves for their visit by getlinf/ up 
a certain number of her poems. Small satisfaction 
had they in their visits. They found a lady 
neither short nor tall, no longer youthful or beau- 
tiful in her apj)earance, yet with hair of the true 
auburn tinge, and as silken, profuse, and curling 
as it had ever been ; with manners quiet and 
refined, a little reserved ; and one, too, who lent no 
ear to the news of the day. The ladies, when 
they departed, had to tell that her room was in a 
sad litter with books and papers, that the strings 
of her harp w^ere half of them broken, and that 
she wore a veil on her head like no one else." 

Shortly after fixing her residence at Waver- 
tree, Mrs. Hemans paid her first visit to Scot- 
land. Iler fame having already preceded her, 
she was enthusiastically received. Upon tliis 
occasion she was accompanied by two of her 
children, a circumstance which should be noted 
by those who are forward in censuring her im- 
puted want of domestic affection. Whilst in 
Scotland she was lionised as much as ever was 
Su' Walter Scott or Miss Edgeworth in London. 
The former invited her to stay at Abbotsford, 
where she spent a few very happy days. " With 
him," she says in one of her letters, *' I am now hi 
constant intercourse, takintj \o\w walks over moor 



1-28 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

and woodland, and listening to song and legend 
of other times, till my mind forgets itself, and is 
carried wholly back to the days of the slogan and 
the fiery cross, and the wide gathering of border 
chivalry. I cannot say enough of his cordial kind- 
ness to me ; it makes me feel when at Abbotsford 
as if the stately rooms of that ancestral-looking 
place were old familiar scenes to me." She also 
informs her correspondent of her having "just 
become acquainted with the Dominie — the veri- 
table Dominie Sampson— being no other than a 
clergyman of this neighbourhood, Melrose, a tall 
man, with long parted hair and a wooden leg. 
Be it known to you all that the Dominie pro- 
fesseth the most profound admiration for me, after 
the solemn expression of which you may be well 
assured that all other homage must be flat and 
unprofitable. " 

Her visit to Scotland extended from June to 
September, and during her stay there she com- 
posed many of the " Songs of the Affections," 
notably, "The Spirit's Return." Mrs. Hemans 
always said that she prefen-ed the latter j)oom to 
anything she had ever written. " But if there 
be," she writes, " as my friends say, a greater 
power in it than I hitherto evinced, I paid dearly 
for the discovery, and it almost made me tremble 
as I sounded the deep places of my soul." 



FELICIA DOBOTnEA HEMANS. 129 

.... I woke to love : — 
O gentle Friend ! to love in doubt and woe, 
Sliutting the heart the worshipped name above, 
Is to love deeply — and my spirit's dower 
Was a sad gift, ii melancholy power 
Of so adoring ; — with a buried care, 
And with the o'erflowing of a voiceless prayer, 
And with the deepening dream, that day by day, 
In the still shadow of its lonely sway, 
Folded me closer ; — till the world held nought, 
Save the one Being to my centred thought. 
There was no music but his voice to hear. 
No joy but such as with his step drew near ; 
Light was but where he looked — life where he moved — 
Silently, fervently, thus, thus I loved. 
Oh ! but such love is fearful ! 



He died — he died. 
On whom my lone devotedness was cast! 
1 might not keep one vigil by his side, 
J, whose wrung heart watched with him to the last ! 
I miglit not once his fa,inting head sustain. 
Nor bathe his ]5arched lips in the hour of pain, 
Nor say to him " Farewell." — He passed away — 
Oh ! had my love been there, its conquering sway 
Had won him back from deatli ! — but thus removed, 
Borne o'er the abyss no sounding line hath proved. 
Joined with the unknown, the viewless, — he became 
Unto my thoughts another, yet the same — 
Changed — hallowed — glorified ! — and his low grave 
Seemed a bright mournful altar — mine, all mine : — 
Brother and Friend soon left me tliat sole shrine. 
The birthright of the Faithful ! — their world's wave 
Soon swept them from its brink. — Oh ! deem thou not 
That on the sad and consecrated spot 
My soul grew weak ! — I tell thee that a power 
There kindled heart and lip ; — a fiery shower 
My words were made ; — a might was given to prayer, 
And a strong grasp to passionate despair, 

VOL. XL K 



130 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

And a dread tritimpli ! — Knowest thoxi what I soxight ? 
For what high boon my struggling spirit wrought P— 
ComBQunion with the dead ! 

During the same year Mrs. Ilemans had many 
applications from editors and others to contribute 
something, were it ever so little, to various maga- 
zines and annuals. In her endeavours to keep 
her numerous engagements she quite overworked 
herself, and the winter of 1829 saw her again in 
delicate health, and seemingly but little benefited 
by her tour to Scotland. Some of the better 
known and more popular of her poems were com- 
posed during these few months — namely, " The 
Lady of Provence," " The Child's First Grief," 
" The Better Land," numerous shorter poems upon 
various subjects, and her exquisite *' Ode to a 
Wandering Female Singer." Li 1830 the "Songs 
of the Affections" were published ; and whilst 
they were yet in the press the health of their 
author again broke down, and she was forced to 
try the effects of change, of air and scene. Mrs. 
Hemans had long been an admirer of Words- 
worth's poems, and now, taking advantage of lier 
enforced holiday, she visited the veteran poet at 
Rydal Mount. She resided in the vicinity of 
Windermere for several months, having hired a 
tiny cottage called Dove's Nest, beautifully 
situated in a romantic spot near Ambleside. 



FELICIA DOROTHEA REMANS. V6l 

Words wor til and his family paid lier much atten- 
tion, and in her letters written from Dove's Nest 
she constantly speaks of the unremitting kindness 
Jind sympathy of the poet. To him, in 1834, 
Mrs. Hemans dedicated her " Scenes and Hymns 
of Life," in "token of deep respect for his 
character and fervent gratitude for moral and 
intellectual benefit derived from reverential com- 
munion with the spirit of his poetry." Such was 
tlie dedication which went forth to the world, pre- 
fixed to the first vohune of tlie work. After lier 
dcatli, liowcvcr, a letter was found hearing the 
inscription — "Intended Dedication of the 'Scenes 
and Hymns of Life,' to William Wordsworth, Esq." 
This letter, in which Mrs. Hemans had given free 
scope to her sentiments, not only of veneration for 
the poet, hut of deep and grateful regard for tlie 
friend, was never published, but its substantial 
ideas are conveyed in the brief dedication before 
quoted. Towards the conclusion of this letter 
Mrs. Hemans says : — " May I be permitted on 
the pi'esent occasion to record my unfading recol- 
lections of enjoyment from your society — of delight 
in having heard from your own lips, and amidst 
your own lovely mountain land, many of those 
compositions, the remembrance of which will ever 
spread over its hills and waters a softer colouring 
of spiritual beauty. Let me also express to you, 

K 2 



132 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

as 16 a dear and most honoured friend, my fervent 
wishes for your long enjoyment of a widely- 
extended influence, which cannot but be blessed — 
of a domestic life encircling you with yet nearer and 
deeper sources of happiness ; and of those eternal 
hopes, on whose foundation you have built, as 
a Christian poet, the noble structure of your 
works. " 

A desire to economise, and to give her younger 
sons the advantages of an university education, 
combined with an imperative necessity for cliange 
of air, induced Mrs. Hemans to leave Wavertree in 
1831, and to take up her residence in Dublin. She 
made a short tour throucrh the land of her fathers 
during the summer, and finally fixed her residence 
in the Irish capital. New scenes gave her new 
themes for her facile pen ; as numerous songs, lyrics, 
and other shorter pieces attest. Many of these 
poems are memorials of the various places she 
visited in Ireland. Amongst varied scenes of interest 
she singles out for especial mark of her regard, tlie 
tomb of Mrs. Mary Tiglie, the author of " Psyche." 
After visiting it Mrs Hemans wrote her " Crave of 
a Poetess," one of the most touching pooins in her 
" Records of Women." Later on we find anotlier 
poem upon the same subject, entitled " Written 
after Visiting a Tomb, near Woodstock, in the 
County of Kilkenny" : — 



FELICIA DOBOTIIEA REMANS. 133 

I stood where the lip of song lay low, 
Where the dust had gathered on Beauty's brow; 
Where stillness hung on the heart of Love, 
And a marble weejjer kept watch above.* 
* * * * 

And she, that voiceless below me slept. 
Flowed not her song from a heart that wept ? 
O, Love and Soug ! though of heaven your powers, 
Dark is your fate in this world of ours. 

Yet, ere I turned from that silent place. 
Or ceased from watching thy sunny race. 
Thou, even thou, on those glancing wings 
Didst waft me visions of brighter things ! 

T'hou that dost image the freed soul's birth. 
And its flight away o'er the mists of earth, 
Oh ! fitly tby patli is through flowers that rise 
Round the dark chamber where Genius lies ! 

Wliilst residina: in Dublin one of Mrs. Hemans's 
chief pleiisiires was to attend the choral services at 
St. i'atrick's Cathedral. She has recorded her 
impressions of it in a little poem, entitled " The 
Music of St, Patrick's." There was one anthem, 
frequently heard within those ancient walls, of 
which Mrs. Henians used to speak with peculiar 
enthusiasm — that from the 3rd Psalm, " Lord, 
how are they increased that trouble me." The 
symphony to the fifth verse — " I laid me down 
and slept" — with its soft, dreamy vibrations, 
almost " steep the senses in forgetfulness," when a 



* The marble figure in the monumental chamber, by Flaxman, 
above the grave of the poetess. 



134 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

sudden outbreak, as it were, of life and light 
bursts forth with the glad announcement, '* I 
awaked ; for the Lord sustained me." No marvel 
that it made a deep impression upon the sensitive 
mind of the poetess ; that grand old anthem once 
heard resounding through those dim ancient arches 
on a Sunday afternoon in winter, could never be 
effaced from the memory of any one who had 
listened to it. 

Mrs. Hemans now wrote incessantly, notwith- 
standing her rapidly-failing healtli. Pecuniary 
considerations are supposed to have actuated her 
to do so at this period of her literary career, more 
than at any other time. She had a limited income, 
was anxious to educate her sons well, and her 
weak physical state required those considerations 
which make money a necessity. From poetry she 
turned her attention to prose, and in May, 1834, 
published a paper on " Tasso," in the New Monthly 
Magazine. Scarcely were the proofs corrected 
when she was seized with fever, and during her 
convalescence was afjain oblio:ed to seek chano-e of 

O O CD 

air and scene. She visited Wicklow a second time, 
residing in the neighbourhood of the lovely valley of 
the Dargle, which she has immortalised in verse. 
Whilst staying in the County Wicklow she made 
a pilgrimage to llosanna, once the residence of the 
author of " Psyche," in memory of whicli gifted 



FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS. 135 

singer she wrote the following lines in the alburn 
tJiere : — 

Oh ! lightly tread through these deep chestiiiit-bowers, 
Where a sweet spirit once in beauty moved ! 

And touch with reverent hand those leaves and flowers. 
Fair things, which well a gentle heart hath loved ! 

A gentle heart, of love and grief th' abode, 

Whence the bright stream of song in tear-drops (lowed. 

And bid its memory sanctify the scene ! 

And let th' ideal presence of the dead 
Float round, and touch the woods with softer green, 

And o'er the streams a charm, like moonlight, shed, 
Through the soul's depths in holy silence felt — 
A sjicll to raise, to chasten, and to melt ! 

Upon her return to Dublin Mrs. Hemans was 
seized with an attack of ague ; and this insidious 
and harassing complaint continued its visitations 
for several weeks, reducing lier poor, wasted form 
to the most lamentable state of debility, and at 
length retiring only to make way for a train of 
symptoms still more fatal and distressing. The 
following graphic account of Mrs. Hemans's situa- 
tion a.t this time, is from the pen of her sister : — 

" While the work of decay was going on thus 
surely and progressively upon the earthly tabernacle, 
the bright flame within continued to burn with a 
pure a.nd holy hght, and, at times, even to flash 
forth with more than wonted briglitness. The 
lyric of ' Despondency and Aspiration,' which may 
be considered as her noblest and highest efibrt, 
and in which, from a feeling that it might be her 



136 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

last work, she felt anxious to concentrate all her 
powers, was written during the few intervals 
accorded her from acute suffering or powerless 
languor. And in the same circumstances she 
wrote, or rather dictated, the series of sonnets 
called ' Thoughts during Sickness,' which present 
so interesting a picture of the calm, submissive 
tone of her mind, whether engaged in tender 
remembrances of the past, or in solemn and reve- 
rential speculations on the future. Tlie one en- 
titled 'Sickness like Night,' discloses a view no 
less affecting than consolatory of the sweet and 
blessed peace which hovered round the couch 
where — 

Mutely and hopelessly she lay reposing. 

The last sonnet of the series, entitled 'Reco- 
very,' was written under temporary appearances 
of convalescence, which proved as fugitive as they 
were fallacious." 

The following months of November and Decem- 
ber were spent by Mrs. Hemans at Redesdale, a 
country seat of Dr. Whately, then Archbishop of 
Dublin. Here she gave herself up to absolute 
quiet, and returned to Dublin much improved in 
health. But this slight return of strength was 
only fleeting, for early in the spring of 1835 her 
debility rapidly increased, and she felt herself 



FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMAN8. 137 

that her days were numbered. One of her friends 
thus describes her state at this time : — " Mrs. 
Hemans was now too ill to leave her room, and 
was only laid upon a couch during the daytime, 
occasionally suffering severely. But all was borne 
with resignation and patience, and when not able 
to bear even the fatigue of reading, she had 
recourse to her mental resources, and as she lay 
on her sofa, she would repeat to herself whole 
chapters of the Bible, and l^age after page of 
IMilton and Wordsworth. Her thoughts reverted 
frequently to the days of her childhood — to tlie 
old house by the seashore — the mountain rambles, 
the haunts and the books which had formed the 
delight of her childhood. She was wont to say to 
those who expressed pity for her situation, that 
* she lived in a fair and hajjpy world of her own, 
among gentle thoughts and pleasant images ;' and 
in her intervals of pain she would observe that ' no 
jxjetry could express nor imagination conceive the 
visions of blessedness that flitted across her fancy, 
and made her waking hours more dehghtful 
than those even that were given to temporary 
repose.' At times her spirit would seem to be 
already half etherealised, her mind would seem to 
be fraught with deep and holy and incommuni- 
cable thoughts, and she would entreat to be left 
] )erfectly alone in stillness and darkness, ' to com- 



138 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

mune with her own heart, and reflect on the 
mercies of her Saviour.'" 

Mrs. Hemans seemed to gather some vitaHty as 
the spring advanced, but towards the middle of 
April the former unfavourable symptoms again 
manifested themselves. On Sunday, the 2Gth of 
April, she dictated to her brother the " Sabbath 
Sonnet" : — 

How many blessed groups this hour are wending, 

Thro' England's jirimrose meadow-paths, their way 
Towards spire and tower, 'midst shadowy elms ascending, 

Whence the sweet chimes proclaim the hallowed day ! 
The halls, from old heroic ages grey, 

Pour their fair children forth ; and hamlets low, 
With whose thick orchard-blooms the soft winds play. 

Send OMi, their inmates in a happy flow. 
Like a freed vernal stream. I may not tread 
With them those pathways, to the feverish bed 

Uf sickness bound ; yet, O my God ! I bless 
Thy mercy, that with Sabbath-peace hath filled 
My chastened heart, and all its throbbings stilled — 

To one deep calm of lowliest thankfulness.* 



* This sonnet appeared in Blachioood the July following, with 
the subjoined remarks : — 

" Wo cannot allow these verses to adorn, Avith a sad beauty, the 
pages of this magazine — more especially as they are the last com- 
posed by their distinguished writer, and that only a few days be to re 
her death — without at least a passing tribute of regret for an event 
which has cast a shadow of gloom through the sunshiny fields of 
contemporary literature. But two months ago the beautiful lyric 
entitled ' Despondency and Aspiration' appeared in these pages, 
and now the sweet fountain of music from which that prophetic 
strain gushed has ceased to flow. The highly -gifted and accom- 
plished, the patient, the meek, and long-suliering Felicia Hkmans 
is no more." 



FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS. 139 

It was the last strain of the " sweet smger," whose 
harp was henceforth to be hung on the willows. 

Exactly one month later, on the 2Gth of May, 
her sorrowing- friends saw that the end was near 
at hand. All day she seemed to be in a stupor, 
and about nine o'clock in the evening the gentle 
spirit of Fehcia Hemans passed quietly away 
without a struggle. She died in her house in 
Dawson Street, Dublin, and her remains were 
interred in a vault in St. Anne's Church, which is 
situated close to the house wherein she died. A 
small tablet in the wall at the right- baud side of 
the church tells her name, her age, and the date 
of her death. There are also inscribed upon it 
some lines from a dirge of her own. 

If ever a poetess lived in her own creations it was 
Felicia Dorothea Hemans. The highest praise that 
can be accorded to her poetry, is to say that it is ex- 
ceptionally feminine, and, at the same time, strong, 
fervid, and impassioned. Her sex could hardly 
wish for a better representative in the world of 
letters. All she has written calls for admiration, 
from the pure and lofty strain which pervades it, 
and the tone of deep religious feeling which cha- 
racterises everything that has come from her pen. 
A noticeable feature of her poetry is her intense 
yearnuig for human aifection and sympathy ; and 
many of her sweetest poems tell of wasted feelings 



UO ILLUSTRIOUS IBISIIWOMEN. 

and disappointed hopes. Truly, of her it may be 
said that she " learnt in sorrow" what she " taught 
in sono"." 

The poetry of Mrs. Hemans possesses three 
striking characteristics : ideality, picturesqueness, 
and a wondrous sense of harmony. In 'her shorter 
poems, she generally takes some story or incident 
as a skeleton, and then clotlies it with lier own 
ideal and picturesque garments. Nothing can be 
more polished than her versification. Every poem 
is like a piece of music, with its eloquent pauses, 
its rich combinations, and its swelling chords. Mrs. 
Hemans's gifted contemporary, Letitia Elizabeth 
Landon, concludes a sliort retrospect of her works 
with the following remarks, which also appro- 
priately bring this brief sketch to a close : — 

" Mrs. Hemans was spared some of the keenest 
mortifications of a literary career. !She knew 
nothing of it as a profession which has to make its 
way through poverty, neglect, and obstacles ; she 
lived apart, in a small, affectionate circle of friends. 
The high-road of life, with its crowds and con- 
tention, its heat, its noise, and its dust tliat rusts 
on all, was for her happily at a distance ; yet even 
in such green nest the bird could not fold its wings 
and sleep to its own music. There came the 
aspiring, the unrest, the aching sense of being 
misunderstood, the consciousness t]\at. those a 



FELICIA nOBOTHEA HEMANS. 141 

thousand times inferior were yet more beloved. 
Genius places a woman in an unnatural position ; 
notoriety frightens away afl'ection ; and superiority 
has for its attendant fear, not love. Its pleasantest 
emotions are too vivid to he lasting ; hope may 
sometimes, 

Raisiu<f its bright face, 
With a free gush of sunny tears, erase 
The characters of anguish ; 

but, like the azure glimpses between thunder- 
showers, the clouds gather more darkly around for 
the passing sunshine. The heart sinks back on 
its solitary desolation. In every page of Mrs. 
Ilemans's writings is this sentiment impressed. 
What is the conclusion of ' Corinne crowned at the 
Ca]3itor ? 

Iladiant daughter of the sun ! 
Now tliy living wreath is won. 
Crowned of Rome! oh, art thou not 
Happy in that glorious lot ? 
Happier, happier far than thou. 
With the laurel on thy brow, 
She that makes the humblest hearth 
Lovely but to one on earth ! 

" What is poetry, and what is a poetical career ? 
The first is to have an organisation of extreme 
sensibility, which the second exposes bareheaded 
to the rudest weather. The original impulse is 
irresistible — all professions are engrossing when 
once begun ; and, acting with perpetual stimulus, 



142 



ILLUSTBIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



nothing takes more complete possession of its fol- 
lower than literature. But never can success 
repay its cost. The work appears — it lives in the 
light of popular applause ; but truly might the 
writer exclaim : 

It is my youth, it is my bloom, it is my glad, free heart, 
I cast away for thee — for thee — ill-fated as thou art. 

" If this be true, even of one sex, liow much 
more true of the other! Ah! Fame to a woman 
is indeed but a royal mourning in purple for 
happiness. " 




THE MISSES PORTER 



JANE POETER— Born, a.d. 1776. Died, a.d. 1850. 
ANNA MARIA PORTER— Born, a.d. 1781. Died, a.d. 1832. 




LTIIOUGH Jane Porter is the elder of 
these two gifted sisters, yet, when speak- 
ing of their literary life, Anna Maria is 
always considered her senior. The latter began 
her career as an authoress at the early age of 
twelve. But before alluding to their works, some 
notice of their perfect private life ought to possess 
some interest for the many who have derived 
pleasure or instruction— or both combined — from 
their writings. 

Jane and Anna Maria Porter were the daughters 
of an Irish officer of the Gth, or Inniskilling 
Dragoons, who died soon after the birth of the 
latter. Mrs. Porter — left a young and lovely 
widow in very straitened circumstances — quitted 
the borderland of Scotland, where she was residing 
at the time of her husband's death, and went to 
live in Edinburgh. She did so with a view of 
allbrding her children the educational advantages 



144 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

of the Athens of the North ; advantages which 
they appear to have availed themselves of from a 
very early age. With her three younger children 
Mrs. Porter lived in Edinburgh for some years — 
quietly and frugally, as her means compelled her 
to do— her eldest son being left at a public school 
in England. Whilst in Edinburgh they made the 
acquaintance of Sir Walter Scott, then a student 
at college there. Anna Maria was his chief 
favourite ; and we are tol'd that " he was very 
fond of either teasing the little female student 
when very gravely engaged with her book, or more 
often fondling her on liis knees, and telling her 
stories of witches and warlocks, till both forgot 
their former playful merriment in the marvellous 
interest of the tale." 

Here also Jane Porter listened to the stories 
and legends which she in after years wove into 
her famous historical romance of " Tlie Scottisli 
Chiefs." The narrator was an old woman named 
Luckie Forbes, whose father had fought at tlie 
battle of CuUoden, and who always wore his silver 
brooch in her cap. ''With her knitting in her 
hand," says Miss Porter, "she would remark on 
the blessed quiet of the land where we saw the 
cattle browsing without fear of an enemy ; and 
then would talk to me of the ' awful times of the 
brave Sir Wilham Wallace,' when he fought for 



TEE MISSES FOBTEB. 146 

Scotland against a cruel tyrant, like unto them 
Ahraham. overcame, when he recovered Lot with 
all his herds and flocks, from the proud foray of 
the five robber-kings of the South ; who, she 
added, were all riglitly punished for opjiressing 
the stranger in a foreign land ! The Lord careth 
for the stranger / .... I must avow that while 
learnmg my school-lessons of general history from 
higher hands, to this respected old woman's en- 
dearing and often elo(^uent manner of relating 
the adventures of the Scottish Chief, I owe my 
early admira.tion for his character. Her repre- 
sentation of his heartrending sacrifices for the 
good of his country, called forth my tears and 
sobs ; and when she told of his brave companions' 
sufferings and of his own eventually barbarous 
execution by the tyrant he had opposed, my grief 
was raised to its climax ; and bewailing him, as I 
had but too recently done my own gallant father, 
I ceased not, during my wliole future life, to 
remember, with something like a kindred sym- 
pathy, himself and the dauntless friends who had 
followed him to honour or the grave." 

The two little girls were very fond of reading, 
and the brilliant intellect of the little Anna Maria 
was the admiration of their circle of acquaintances. 
She learnt much more quickly than did her elder 
sister, Jane, who was obliged laboriously to toil up 

VOL. II. L 



U6 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

the hill of knowledge. Anna Maria never had any 
need to sacrifice amusement for close study of any 
kind, the quickness of her perceptions giving her 
an almost intuitive knowledge of anything she 
wished to learn. 

Mrs. Porter and her children left Edinburgli 
when Anna Maria was about nine, and spent a 
couple of years in visiting their relatives in Eng- 
land and Ireland. Finally they settled in London, 
and soon drew around them a congenial circle of 
friends, amongst whom were Mrs. Hannah More 
and Mrs. Barbauld. After residing for a year or 
two in London, Mrs. Porter removed to Esher, the 
paling of her garden dividing her little domain 
from the lawns and woods of Claremont Park. 
During the habitation of the latter place by his 
Royal Highness Prince Leopold, Mrs. Porter and 
her daughters received much attention from the 
Koyal Family. In this unpretending cottage the 
happiest days of the sister novelists were passed. 
Jane Porter says it was "a spot which had 
brightened the eyes of many a tourist while 
loitering by its trellis porch, and looking in, 
admired its bowery hangings studded with singing 
birds ; its small green stands, covered with fragrant 
bean-pots of every flower in the season, gathered 
from our own garden, or sent in greater quantities 
to my dear sister, she being particularly fond of 



THE MISSUS PORTER. 147 



Nature's garlands, whether in their native wild- 
ness, or cultured to the perfection of the rarest 
exotics transplanted to our soil. But what was 
yet sweeter to her eye and ear were the prayer 
and the blessing of the hungry and the wayworn, 
whom we often saw and heard pouring their 
modest gratitude over the wicket-gate before the 
porch of our door. For no weary traveller or real 
object of charity ever stopped to lean for a 
moment's rest on that humble paling without 
attracting our mother's notice, and meeting a 
bounteous refreshment from her hand." 

In this " little Arcadia" — as Sir Frederick Eden 
called it — they hved until the death of Mrs. 
Porter in 1831. The remains of this venerable 
Ifidy were interred in the village churchyard in 
Eshcr. Her son — Sir Eobert Ker Porter, famous 
as an historical painter — placed an altar-piece, 
painted by himself^ over the communion-table of 
the village church which she had been in the habit 
of attending. 

After the death of their mother, the Misses Porter 
gave up the cottage at Esher, and went to Hve 
with one of their brothers, an eminent surgeon in 
Bristol. Anna Maria had never been very strong, 
and the shock sustained by her mother's death 
still further enfeebled her. A few months after 
her arrival m Bristol she was attacked by an 

l2 • 



148 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

epidemic fever, and died on tlie 21st of June, 
1832, aged fifty-one years. To the day of lier 
death Miss Anna Maria Porter was remarkably 
elegant and graceful in figure. Her eyes were 
bright and expressive, and her manner attractive. 
In her earlier years a resemblance was traced 
between her features and those of Sir Joshua 
E-eynolds ; and she was wont to place a pair of 
large spectacles upon her nose in order to render 
the supposed likeness more complete. At a more 
advanced age, those who had known Angelica 
Kauffmann in her youth, observed a similarity of 
feature and expression between her and Miss 
Anna Maria Porter. 

She wrote fifty-two works— a number that ex- 
cites amazement, even in these days of rapid 
writing. Her best novel is that of " Don Sebas- 
tian," but in all her compositions she evinced the 
finest dramatic tact. The plots are so carefully 
constructed, that to remove the smallest inci- 
dent would be like taking away the keystone of 
an arch. United to this constructive faculty were 
keen powers of observation and subtle analysis of 
character, combined with a glowing imagination. 
" The immortality of a work," says Mrs. El wood, 
" like the happy immortality of the soul, does not 
lie in its superior faculties, but in the use to whicli 
they are applied — in its virtue— its power to move 



THE MISSES POBTEIL 149 



men's minds to good thoughts and great actions. 
And to accomplish such an aim was the meek but 
energetic object of Miss Anna Maria Porter," 

Jane Porter did not commence her literary 
career until much later than her sister, for 
she was seven-and-twenty when her first novel, 
'" Thaddeus of Warsaw," was published. It was 
written soon after she came to reside in London. 
Ilussia was just then endeavouring to sweep the 
chivalric kingdom of Poland from the map of 
nations, and Jane Porter's sensitive mind was 
dee]i)ly impi-essed by tlie stories which she hoard 
-of the sufferings of the exiled Poles. Her sym- 
patliies were further enlisted from the accounts 
whicli her brother gave her of Kosciusko. He had 
become acquainted with the Polish patriot when 
abroad, and admired and respected him. The 
novel attracted much attention, and as an evidence 
of his appreciation of the work, Kosciusko sent 
Miss Porter a complimentary letter, and a ring 
containing his portrait. The authoress was also 
elected a lady chanoinesse of the Teutonic order of 
St. Joachim, in the habit of which she appears in 
some of her portraits. 

" The Scottish Chiefs" is the novel by which Miss 
Jane Porter's literary fame was firmly established. 
»Sir Walter Scott admitted that Maria Edgewo^i^h's 



150 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

pictures of Irish life had given him the idea 
of deUneating Scottish character ; but that 
" The Scottish Chiefs" had suggested to him the 
desirabiUty of interweaving history with these 
traits. Joanna Bail He said of the hero of this first 
of the historical romances — " Wallace, in ' The 
Scottish Chiefs,' which, through a variety of in- 
teresting imaginary adventures conducts a charac- 
ter of most perfect virtue and heroism to an 
affecting and tragical end, is a romance deservedly 
popular." Not quite so flattering was the verdict 
of Allan Cunningham. '' She has," he says, 
" added attributes which neither pertain to the 
times nor to the hero. She has drawn him with a 
hand much too soft and gentle. " The novel passed 
through many editions, and Miss Porter's next 
work was "The Pastor's Fireside," a domestic tale 
in three volumes. This was followed by " Duke 
Christian of Luneberg," written in consequence of 
" His Majesty's (George IV.) gracious request that 
Miss Porter's next subject should be the life of his 
great and virtuous progenitor, Duke Christian of 
Luneberg." The original documents were fur- 
nished by the King, who declared the work had 
been completed to his fidlest wishes. 

Other novels followed in quick succession, one 
of them, " The Field of Forty Footsteps," having 
been dramatised. Then followed " Sir Edward 



THE MISSES POBTEB. 151 

Seawards Narrative of liis Shipwreck and conse- 
quent Discovery of certain Islands in the Caribbean 
Sea ; with a Detail of many extraordinary and 
highly interesting Events in his Life, from the 
year 1733 to 1749 ; as written in his own Diary. 
Edited by Miss Jane Porter." This clever fiction 
was as successful as was Sir Thomas Mores 
"Utopia," or De Foe's "Voyage to the World of 
Cartesius." After elaborate researches among 
Admiralty records, Indian maps, &c., a critic in 
the Quarterly gravely informs his readers, — 
" We are compelled to state that, notwithstand- 
ing its solemn and almost sacred character, it is 
neither more nor less than pure unmingled fiction 
from first to lait."* Its literary ability is com- 
mended in the same notice. Many reviewers were 
for a time deceived. At the merciless rummaging 
of Admiralty records and Indian maps, made by 
her critics. Miss Porter was more flattered than 
annoyed. Wlien pressed as to the real origin of 
" Sir Edward Seaward," she would quietly say, 
" Sir Walter Scott had his great secret ; I must 
be allowed to keep my little one."t 

Charles Kean, in 1819, played in a tragedy by 
Miss Porter, called " Switzerland." It was not a 
success ; another instance of a thoroughly dra- 



♦ December, 1832. f Gentleman's Magazine, August, 1850. 



152 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

matic novelist being unable to write a thoroughly 
dramatic play. 

The deaths of her mother and sister weighed 
heavily upon Miss Porter's mind, .and her grief 
seriously affected her health. She had been 
living with her brother in Bristol, since the death 
of her sister, and in 1842, feeling a necessity for 
change of scene, accompanied her eldest brother, 
Sir Robert Ker Porter, on a visit to his daughter 
at St. Petersburg. Here a fresh trial awaited 
her. Just as they were on the eve of returning 
to England, her beloved brother was taken 
suddenly ill, and died in a few hours. 

Miss Porter returned to England, and for the 
remaining years of her life resided with her 
younger brother. Dr. Porter, of Bristol. His 
htmse was her home, she only leaving it to j)ay 
lengthened visits to old and congenial friends. In 
search of health she went to Brighton for some 
time, and during her stay there became the object 
of Her Majesty's solicitude. In a preflxce })refixed 
to one of the later editions of " The Scottish 
Chiefs," Miss Porter thus speaks of the Iloyal 
favours which she received : — 

" There is an illustrious name, the most illus- 
trious in the country, to which I must add an 
honoured subject's grateful sense of its goodness — 
the Queen of England, who, hearing of the 



THE MISSES PORTER. 153 

dangerous illness of one whom lier gracious youth 
remerahered as the authoress of * The Scottish 
Chiefs/ &c. — one who had dwelt in the bosom of 
her family, near to the gates where Her Majesty 
had jiassed her own interesting childhood, to this 
now solitary and lately deeply-suffering invalid at 
Brighton did her young and pitying Queen no 
sooner hear of these cii-cumstances, than with one 
of those spontaneous feelings which, like a natural 
fountain, spring to action in her royal heart, her 
command was given that the authoress of works 
80 read and approved should, in that her, perhaps, 
dying hour, receive proofs of the value her gracious 
Sovereign set upon such talents so applied. This 
was a testimony to a female writer of England, 
wliich could not but be of as distinguishing an 
estimation in her breast as the cross or the star to 
the bosoms of the brave defenders of that country 
whose weal at home and abroad her maiden pen 
has ever mculcated, must rest for ever in its 
people's firm support of the laws, the liberties, 
and the throne of England. " 

The novels of the Misses Porter have had a wide 
circulation in America. In 1844 a number of the 
publishers, booksellers, and authors of the United 
States sent from New York to Miss Porter a 
handsome rosewood armchair, " as a memorial of 
high and respectful admiration for the author of 



154 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

some of the purest and most imaginative produc- 
tions in the wide range of English literature." 

A critic in Frazers Magazine says : "It is to 
Miss Porter's fame that she began the system of 
historical novel- writing which attained the climax 
of its renown in the hands of Sir Walter Scott. 
And no light praise it is that she has thus pioneered 
the way for the greatest exhihition of the greatest 
genius of our time. She may parody Bishop Hall, 
and tell Sir Walter : 

I first adventured — follow me who list, 
And be the second Scottisli novelist." 

In addition to her works published in book form, 
Miss Porter was a constant contributor to the 
periodical literature of the day. Her last works 
were " The Pastor's Fireside," and some contribu- 
tions to Frazer. The latter magazine, in 1835, 
published a portrait of Miss Porter, together with 
a brief memoir, which says : ''In private, she is a 
quiet and good-humoured lady, rather pious, and 
fond of going to evening parties, where she gene- 
rally contrives to be seen patronising some sucking 
lion or lioness. In which occupation may she long 
continue, devoting her mornings to the Prayer- 
book, and her evenings to the conversazione — 

And may no ill event cut shorter 
The easy course of Miss Jane Porter." 

The career of Miss Jane Porter was not marked 



TEE MISSES FOBTEB. 



1.55 



by any very striking event ; she won her celebrity 
by her genius, and her unblemished character 
brightens the j^icture. She died May 24th, 1850, 
at the residence of her brother, Dr. Porter, of 
Bristol, in the seventy-fourth year of her age. 




SYDNEY, LADY MOEGAN. 




Born December 25th, about 1777. Died Avril 16tii, 1859. 

PEOTEST against dates! What has a 
woman got to do with dates !" exclaimed 
" Sydney, Lady Morgan," as she chose to 
call herself. She kept the secret of her birth with 
admirable tact ; but she is supposed to have been 
born in the year 1777, or thereabouts. Know- 
ing she was so sensitive upon this point, her 
unsparing critic and enemy, Croker, took a mean 
revenge against her by always speaking of her as 
" Miss Owenson, of the eighteenth century." 

Sydney Owenson was one of the two daughters 
of an Irish land- steward named MacOwen, whicli 
he Anglicised to Owenson. He became stage-struck, 
entered the profession and went over to London, 
where he made his fb'st appearance in Howe's 
play of "Tamerlane." He was tolerably success- 
ful, and "Mr. Owenson, the great London actor," 
made a " starring" tour through the provinces. 
While at Slirewsbury he met a certain Miss Hill, 
" a simple woman of a certain age," who was com- 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 157 

pletely fascinated by the handsome Irishman. 
She eloped with him ; they were married, and 
tlieir eldest child was the subject of this memoir. 

She was born on Christmas Day, on the passage 
between Holyhead and Dublin ; at least, that is 
tlie generally given and received account, but in 
Lady Morgan's own Memoirs she gives the fol- 
lowing graphic details : — 

" In the hour when I first drew breath, and felt 
life's first inaugural sensation-pain, the world took 
part in the hour and the day. It was the festival 
of humanity, of peace, and goodwill to man, of 
love and liberty and high distinction to woman, of 
glory to the motherhood of nations, the accom- 
phshment of the first desire of her, who was created, 
not born ; the desire ' to be as gods, knowing good 
from evil' — the head and front of human science. 
I was born on Christmas Day ; in that land where 
all holy days are religiously celebrated, as testi- 
monials to faith, and are excuses for festivity — in 
' Ancient Ould Dublin.' 

" Bells tolled, carols were intoned, the streets 
resounded with joyous sounds, chimneys smoked, 
and friends were preparing to feast the fasters of 
the previous week, in that most Catholic of 
countries. Holly and ivy draped every wall, and 
many happy returns of the season were olfered 
on all sides ; supper- tables without distmction of 



158 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

religion, High Church and Low Church, Cathohc 
and Protestant, ahke took the benefit of * the 
good the gods provided.' Guests were assembled, 
and all awaited the announcing liour as it struck 
from the belfry of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the 
echoes booming doA\ni all the close old streets of 
Dublin, and overpowered all the minor bells of 
the seven churches of its most saintly neighbour- 
hood. 

" There was, however, on that joyous night 
one round table distinguished above most others, 
by the wit and humour of the convives. The 
master of the feast was as fine a type of the Irish 
gentleman as Ireland ever sent forth. His name 
was Robert Owenson ; beside him sat one whose 
name in Ireland was long celebrated, and is not yet 
forgotten, as belonging to one of the greatest wits 
of his country and time — Edward Lysaght, long 
the captain of the University boys, that formidable 
body of learned and privileged insurbordinates, 
and who had lately been admitted to the Irisli 
Bar. Others tliere were also, though then un- 
known to fame, except for their social endowments. 

"The lady who had the best right to preside on 
the occasion of this most Christian festival, as she 
was herself truly the sincerest of Christians and 
best of women, had retired early in the evening to 
her chamber on the plea of ' indisposition,' but 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 159 

still not deeming it indicative of any immediate 
catastrophe. But before the great clock of St. 
Patrick had chimed out the second hour of the 
new-born anniversary, another birth had taken 
place, and was announced by a joyous gossip to the 
happy father, who instantly disappeared. The 
guests, far from dispersing, waited for him (thougli 
not with empty glasses), and when he returned, 
nearly an liour after, and announced the ' birth of 
a dear little Irish girl — the very thing I have 
always wished for !' the intelhgence w^as responded 
to l)y i)j half-suppressed cheer, mellow as a Low 
Mass, and hearty wishes of long life to her !"* 

In such wise, then, did the future poetess, 
novelist, dramatist, and queen of society, make 
her first entrance into this life. Sydney Owenson 
is a remarkable example of what a woman can do, 
unaided, who has tact and energy enough to use 
discreetly the brains with which she has been 
dowered. Who would have predicted that the 
small, fragile child, bred up amid actors, learning 
her first letters, probably, upon a playbill — con- 
versant with properties — the pet of the green-room 
— whose loud merry laugh might be heard before 
the drop-scene was drawn up, behind the foot- 
lights — who would suppose that she would have 



* Vide " Lady Morgan's Memoir," pp. 7-8. 



160 ILLUSTRIOUS lUlSUWOMEN. 

lived to eiglity-two, to figure in the most polite 
neighbourhood of London, among the most lettered, 
the most famous, and the most aristocratic society 
in the world ? 

With considerable difficulty, her mother at last 
succeeded in teaching Sydney to read. But before 
that much -to-be-desired part of her education had 
been accomplished, the future authoress had already 
had her mind well stored with hymns, poems, Irish 
ballads, snatches of Shakspeare, and other desul- 
tory scraps which she picked up anywhere and 
everywhere. Eventually, she properly learnt both 
reading and writing from Thomas Uermody, the 
Poor Scholar, who has often been called " the Irish 
Chatterton." 

One evening, as Kobert Owenson, his wife, and 
two little girls were sitting in their parlour adjoin- 
ing the Music Hall in Fishamble Street, where 
Robert Owenson gave his dramatic entertainments, 
one of the theatre attendants announced that a 
boy was waiting to see the manager. Cherry, one 
of the actors now made his appeaT-ance, and read 
a satirical poem, which he said had been written 
by the boy who was now in the painting-room. 
The humour, satire, and learning which it dis- 
played amazed and delighted the hearers, and 
Robert Owenson hurried off to see the author. 
What was his surprise at the figure that met his 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 161 

view ! Infantine in appearance, with a meagre, 
half-starved, but intelligent countenance ; ■ a coat 
much too large for him, and his shoulders and 
arms seen naked through it ; without sliht, waist- 
coat, or stockings ; with a pair of breeches made 
for a full-grown person, soiled and ragged, reaching 
to his ankles ; his feet thrust into a pair of old 
slippers, his hair clotted with glue, and his face 
and almost naked body smeared and disfigured 
with paint of different colours — black, blue, red, 
green, and yellow — thus stood before them, with 
a pot of size in one hand and a paint-brush in 
the other, the translator of Horace, Virgil, and 
Anacreon. 

Good-hearted Kobert Owenson heard the boy's 
story, and then, touched by his poverty and his 
learning, not alone gave him a home in his own 
house, but introduced him to many mfluential 
persons. Dublin was a centre of literature and 
fashion at the time, and Thomas Dermody soon 
became a lion. But, alas ! that it should be said 
of so many of our gifted countrymen ! — Dermody 
fell into habits of profligacy and intemperance, 
and was often without the mere necessaries of life. 
Yet, through all, Robert Owenson 's kindness was 
unfailing. On one occasion he wrote to his bene- 
factor : — 

" Your bounty to me has been like the ocean, 

VOL. IL M 



162 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

boundless and illimitable. From my appearance 
I am ashamed to call upon you. I shall only say 
I have fasted for a longer time than caused the 
death of Chatterton. 

" Thomas Dermody." 

To which significant epistle Owenson repHed : — 

*' Accept the enclosed ; and wliile so poor a man 
as myself can purcliase a loaf, you shall never want 
share of it, in common with my dear girls. In 
answer to your former note, call at Mr. Dixon's, 
corner of Crow Sreet, and by my desire he will 
give you three pair of stockings : it will be time 
enough to get some of that commodity when you 
enter the College, if ever you should have grace 
enough to accomplish so desired an object. Get 
them of such a kind as will be useful, not fashion- 
able. Call at Rourk's, and you will get a pair of 
shoes. I think you want them," 

It was not until Sydney was eight yeo,rs old 
that her sister Olivia was born. A year or two 
afterwards a son was born, who died in infancy. 
The date of Mrs. Owenson's death has never been 
ascertained, but it is probable it took place when 
Olivia was about five or six years old ; for Owen- 
son, "the exemplary widower," was long remem- 
bered in Dublin as one who would daily leave the 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 163 

city behind to give his little daughters the benefit 
of a coiintiy walk. Sydney Owenson was through 
life tenderly attached to her father. A more 
filially fond heart never existed, and to the day of 
her death her father's memory and portrait were 
venerated and treasured by her with intense 
enthusiasm. He was a most excellent parent, 
anxious in every way for the j^rosperity of his 
daughters. After the death of their mother he 
placed them at a good school at Clontarf, and 
underwent many privations in order to give his 
little girls the best education possible. " I re- 
member once," said Lady Morgan, " our music 
mistress, Miss Buck, complained to my father of 
our idleness, as he sat beside us at the piano, 
whilst we stimibled through a duet from the 
overture to ' Artaxerxcs.' His answer to her com- 
plaint was simple and graj^hic ; for, dra^dng up 
the sleeve of a handsome surtout great-coat which 
he wore, he showed the shabby, threadbare sleeve 
of the black coat beneath, and said, touching the 
whitened seams, ' I should not be driven to the sub- 
terfuge of wearing a great-coat this hot weather to 
conceal the poverty of my dress beneath, if it were 
not that I wish to give you the advantage of such 
instruction as you are now neglecting.' This 
went home, and Miss Buck had nothing to com- 
plaui of during the remainder of our tuition.' 

M 2 



164 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Sydney profited by the educational advantages 
which her father gave her ; and a very few years 
afterwards, when he again became embarrassed in 
circumstances, she announced her intention of 
taking a situation as a governess. Sh.e entered 
the family of a Mrs. Featherstone, and seems to 
have been very happy there. At first they hved 
in the country, but a few months later the family 
removed to Dominick Street, Dublin, where 
Sydney commenced her search for a publisher. 
She had already published, by subscription, a 
volume of poems. Their success, however, was 
nothing to speak of An evening she spent with 
Moore, the poet, at his brother's — the grocer of 
Little Longford Street, Dublin — decided her to 
try her fortunes seriously as an authoress. The 
success of the grocer's son fired her ambition, and 
she dreamt of name, fame, and fortune to be won 
by her brains and her facile pen. 

So, one morning Sydney Owenson, governess, 
left her employer's house in Dominick Street, 
attired in the cook's cloak and bonnet, and set out 
on her travels in search of a publisher. She 
carried a roll of manuscript, carefully tied up with 
rose-coloured ribbon. It was her novel of " St. 
Clair." Arrived at a bookseller's shop in Henry 
Street, a small boy was sweeping down the steps, 
and in answer to her request to see " the master," 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 165 

inquired if she wanted the young " mastlier or the 
ould one." 

The following graphic account of her interview 
is the last portion of her autobiography which 
Lady Morgan dictated : — 

" Before I could make my selection, a glass door 
at the back of the shop opened, and a flashy young 
yeoman in fidl uniform, his musket on his shoulder, 
and whisthng the ' Irish Volmiteers,' marched 
straight up to me. 

"The impudent boy, wuiking his eye, said — 

" ' Here's a young Miss wants to see yez, Master 
James.' 

" Master James marched up to me, chucked me 
under the chin, ' and filled me from the crown to 
the toe-top full of direst cruelty.' I could have 
nmrdered tliem botk 

** All tliat was dignified in girlhood and author 
ship beat at my heart, when a voice from the 
[jarlour behind the shop came to my rescue by 
exclaiming — 

" ' What are yeh doing there, Jim ? Why ain't 
you off, sir ? for the Phaynix, and the lawyers' 
corps marched an hour ago. * 

" The next moment a good-humoured-looking, 
middle-aged man, but in a great passion, with his 
face half shaved, and a razor and shavinef-cloth ill 
l)i« hand, came forth and said — 



166 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

" ' Off wid yeh now, sir, like a sky-rocket.' 

" Jim accordingly shouldered his musket ' like a 
sky-rocket,' and Scrub, leaping over the counter, 
seized his broom and began to sweep diligently. 

" The old gentleman gave me a good-humoured 
glance, and saying — ' Sit down, honey, and I 
will be with you in a jiffey,' — returned in a 
few minutes with the other half of his face 
shaved, and wiping his hands with a towel, 
took his place behind the counter, saying, ' Now, 
honey, what can I do for you ?' This was 
altogether unlike my ideas of the Tonsons, the 
Dodsleys, and the great Miss Burney, that I was 
equally inclined to laugh and cry. So the old 
gentleman repeated his question, ' Well, what do 
you want, my dear V 

" I hesitated, and at last said — 

" * I want to sell a book, please.' 

" ' To sell a book, dear ? An ould one ? — for I 
sell new ones myself And what is the name of 
it ? and what is it about V 

" I was now occupied in taking off the rose- 
coloured ribbon with which I had tied up my 
manuscript. 

" * What,' he said, ' it is a manuscript — is it V 

" ' The name, sir,' I said, ' is " St. Clair." ' 

*' * Well now, my dear, I have nothing to do 
with Church books, neither sermons nor tracts ; so 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 167 

you see, I take it for granted it is a Papist book, 
hj the title.' 

" ' No, sh', it is one of sentiment, after the manner 
of "Werter."' 

" He passed liis hand over his face, which left the 
humorous smile on liis face unconcealed. 

" * Well, my dear, I never heard of " Werter ;" 
and you see I am not a publisher of novels at all. ' 

" At this announcement. — hot, hungry, flurried, 
and mortified — I began to tie up my MS. In 
spite of myself, the tears came into my eyes, and 
poor, good-natured Mr. Smith said — 

" ' Don't cry, dear — don't cry ; there's money bid 
for you yet ! But you're very young to turn 
author ; and Avhat's yer name, dear V 

" ' Owenson, sir,' I said. 

** * Owenson ?' he repeated * Are you anything 
to Mr. Owenson, of the Theatre lloyal ?' 

" ' Yes, sir, I am his daughter.' 

" ' His daughter ? You amaze me !' And rimning 
round the counter with the greatest alacrity, he 
said — ' Come into the parlour and have some 
breakfast, and we will talk it over. Why, your 
father is the greatest friend I have in the world.' 

" ' Oh no, sir, impossible ! I am expected to 
breakfast where I live — I must return.' 

** * Well, then, what can I do for you ? Will I 
recommend you to a publisher ?' 



368 ILLUSTRIOUS lEISHWOMEN. 

" * Oh ! sir, if you would be so good !' 
" ' To be sure I would.' He then took a sheet 
of paper, wrote a few lines, rapidly tossed a wafer 
about in his mouth for some minutes, sealed his 
letter, and directed it to Mr. Brown, bookseller 
and publisher, Gmfton Street. ' Now here, my 
dear ; Mr. Brown is the great publisher of novels 
and poems. 'Twas he brouglit out Counsellor 
Curran's poems, and Mr. O'Callaghan — beautiful 
poet, but rather improper. Now, dear, don't lose 
a minute, this is just the time for catching old 
Brown ; and let me know your success, and what 
I can do for you.' And so with curtseys and 
blushes, and wiping away my tears, I started off 
for the other side of the water, and ran rather 
than walked to Mr. Brown's, of Grafton Street." 

Mr. Brown offered to give an opinion upon the 
manuscript, and told the young literary aspirant 
to call in a few days to hear his decision. But in 
the meantime Mrs. Featherstone and her family 
left Dublin. Sydney heard notliing about l»er 
novel, and the season again returned for the family 
to come up to town. One day she accompanied 
Mrs. Featherstone to see a sick friend, and whilst 
she went up to the invalid's room, Sydney was 
left to amuse herself in the sitting-room. To pass 
the time, she took up a book, and found it to be 
her own novel of " St. Clau-" ! 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 160 

She liad not left any address with the pub- 
lisher, so that he had no means of communicating 
with her. He presented her with four copies of 
the book, which was all the remuneration she 
received at this time. The work was re-written 
and improved before its publication in England. 
When "St. Clair" was published in Germany, a 
biographical notice was prefixed ; this remark- 
able production asserted that the authoress had 
strangled herself with an embroidered cambric 
handkerchief, in a fit of despair and disappointed 
love ! 

" In spite of faults and absurdities," says William 
Hej)worth Dixon, " ' St Clair' contains the promise 
of better things. ' The Sorrows of Werter' was 
her model, but there is an idea of drawing cha- 
racters and inventing situations far from hackneyed 
or conventional ; and, in si)ite of the pedantry, 
there is an eloquence and passion which redeems 
its impossibility. The characters are shadows of 
ideas, and utterly unlike human beings, but each 
personage has a character and supports it ; the 
work abounds in high-flown discourse and dis- 
cussion upon the topics of love, music, poetry, and 
literature in general. The authoress talked out 
her own impressions and opinions of the books she 
had read, and though the display of her reading 
hinders the action and spoils tUe story, there is a 



170 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

freshness and enthusiasm which only needed time 
and practice to turn to profit. The extent of her 
reading is quite wonderful for so young a girl ; 
it consists of solid works and standard authors, 
requiring careful and painstaking study. She had 
a strong passion for acquiring knowledge, stronger 
even than her love of displaying it. She revelled 
in allusions to her favourite books, in quotations 
and in fine-sounding words. In all her early 
works, her heroes and heroines indulge in wonder- 
ful digressions — historical, astronomical, and meta- 
physical — in the very midst of the most tei"ri])le 
emergencies where danger, despair, and unspeakable 
catastrophes are imminent and impending. No 
matter what laceration of their finest feelings they 
may be suffering, the chief characters have always 
their learning at theii' finger-ends, and never fail 
to make quotations from favourite authors appro- 
priate to the occasion. It is easy to laugh at all 
this ; but it were devoutly to be wished that the 
young authors of the present day would i"ead a 
little before they begin to write so much." 

Sydney Owenson left the Featherstones early 
in the summer, at the request of her father. But 
the quiet stay-at-home life did not suit the rest- 
less girl, ambitious always to do something to make 
herself independent. That was the secret of her 
success. She was<, ambitious, self-reliant, and, 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 171 

above all, she was industrious. Therefore, she 
accepted a situation as governess in the family of 
a Mrs. Crawford, at Fort William, in the North of 
Ireland. 

Her career as a governess was not an unhappy- 
one. She possessed so many social qualities, that 
her presence was rather an acquisition in a dull 
country house. She had conciliating manners, 
and was not prone to take offence. As she says 
herself in one of her letters — " You know one of 
my maxims is, never to let anything in the Avorld 
rullle my temper, and by this means I continue to 
keep others in good humour with me." She 
danced well, she sang Irish songs to her harp, she 
was flattered and made love to, yet through it all 
she never lost her head. 

" The Novice of St. Dominic" — her second 
novel — was written during these governessing- 
days, and the whole six volumes copied out by 
her lover, Francis Crossley — a most unmistakable 
proof of devotion ! Miss Owenson determined to 
try her fate with a London publisher, and, at 
random, selected Sir Ilichard Phillips, merely 
from seeing his name in the newspapers. She 
wrote to him about her book, and he returned 
a courteous answer, saying he could not accept 
the work, nor even give an opinion without 
seeing it. 



172 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

The young Irish girl had made up her mind to 
b3 an authoress, and she was determined to 
succeed. So upon the receipt of Sir Richard 
PhilHps's letter, she packed up her manuscript, 
and set off for London. It was a long and 
perilous journey in those days ; and she was alone, 
with very little money in her pocket. When the 
coach drove into Lad Lane, London, to the inn- 
yard of the Swan witli Two Necks, the young- 
authoress was so tired that she sat down upon lier 
trunk in a corner of the yard, and fell fast asleep. 
A gentleman noticed her, and requested that she 
would be properly looked after. This benefactor 
proved to be Mr. Quentin Dick, her friend of later 
years. 

She had an interview with Phillips, the pub- 
lisher, the next day. He was charmed with her ; 
introduced her to his wife, got her respectable 
lodgings, accepted her novel, and paid her at once 
for it. It is much to her credit that slie at once 
sent the greater portion of the money to her 
father, as a help towards rescuing him from his 
financial embarrassments. . 

Out of this — the price of her first successful 
novel — she bought for herself an Irish harp, by 
Egan, and a black mode cloak. Phillips induced 
her to cut down the novel from six to four volumes, 
" and she used always to say that she believed it 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 173 

was regard for her feelings alone which hindered 
him from reducing it to three." 

" The Novice" was emphatically a success, 
although many of the characters were rather un- 
natural. The heroine is terribly well-educated, 
even for these days of competitive examinations. 
She and her accomplished lover talk Shakspeare 
and the musical glasses in a manner which might 
be edifying, were it not bewildering. Mr. Pitt 
thought very highly of this novel, and it was one 
of the last books he read. 

Sydney returned from London a successful 
autlioress, and with an order from Sir Richard 
Phillips for a novel upon a purely Irish subject. 
She went to work indefatigably ; collected informa- 
tion from every source ; even went to Connaught 
to look for materials, the result of her labours 
being "The Wild Irish Girl." When it was com- 
pleted, Phillips was charmed with it, and wished to 
monojiolise the writer upon easy terms. But she 
was too good a business-woman to do anything of 
the kind, and she wrote to Johnson, a rival pub- 
lisher, about it. The correspondence upon the 
subject is" very amusing ; but the material result 
of it was that Phillips gave Miss Owenson three 
hundred pounds for the book. 

No wonder the novel was a brilliant success, for 
the authoress painted from real life, throwing 



174 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISnWOMEN. 

around some romantic circumstances tlie halo of 
her own vivid perceptions and imagination. At 
first she was about to call it " The Princess of 
Innismore ;" and as it is based upon a curious 
circumstance in Miss Owenson s own life, we may 
be excused for giving in full the nucleus of the 
novel which has made the writer's name famous. 

" A young man, Eichard Everard, . had fallen 
violently in love with Miss Owenson ; his father 
discovered it, and was displeased. This son had 
no money, no profession, and was a very idle 
young man. Miss Owenson had no money either, 
and it looked a very undesirable match. Mr. 
Everard, the father, called upon Miss Owenson, 
stated his objections, and begged her to use her 
influence to make his son Richard take to some 
employment, and tried to obtain her promise not 
to marry him. Miss Owenson had not the least 
inclination to marry him, but nobody likes to be 
peremptorily desired to refrain from a course they 
are ' not inclined to.' Still, Sydney Owenson 
spoke so wisely, and conducted herself so 
pleasantly, that the father actually became 
desirous of doing himself what he had forbidden 
his son to think of Miss Owenson was no more 
disposed to marry the father tlian she had been to 
marry the son. He became, however, a very firm 
and kind friend to her father, assisting him l)oth 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 175 

with counsel and money. Mr. Everard kept up a 
long and earnest correspondence with Miss Owen- 
son, confiding to her, witli singular frankness, all 
his own concerns and j^i'ivate affairs, and con- 
stantly entreating her to use her influence over 
his son to turn him from his evil courses. 

"The history of tliis curious friendship is de- 
tailed in the story of * The Wild Irish Girl,' where 
her father figures as the Prince of Innismore, Mr. 

Everard and his son as Lord M and Mortimer, 

though the beautiful atmosphere of romance which 
clothes the story in the novel was entirely absent 
in the matter-of-fact. The character of the 
Princess of Innismore was afterwards identified 
with Lady Morgan, and until her marriage she 
was always known in society by the sobriquet of 
Glorviiia."* 

" The Wild Irish Girl" was completed in 1806, 
and no sooner were the proofs out of her hands 
than Miss Owenson set to work again. The next 
effort of her pen was called " Patriotic Sketches," 
in which she dealt with the then, as now, much 
vexed question of Irish politics. The book was 
tolerably successful, and the authoress now gave 
herself a comparative rest. She paid visits all 
the while, however, gathering fresh material for 



* " Memoirs," by W. H. Dixon, pp. 276-77. 



176 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

other work. In 1807 she produced an operetta, 
called " The Whim of the Moment," in which her 
father played. It was his last appearance on the 
Dublin stage, and the following year he quitted 
the profession entirely. He was in very embar- 
rassed circumstances, and the faithful Sydney did 
all in her power to relieve him. Her sister Olivia 
was very dehcate, and the state of her health gave 
her affectionate father and sister much concern. 
Sydney procured a situation for her as governess 
to the children of General Brownrigg, then re- 
siding in Dublin. Referring to the performance 
of the operetta, and to the departure of Olivia, 
Robert Owenson writes thus to his eldest 
daughter : — 

" I am afraid, my dear Syd, your little head 
will be quite turned giddy with pleasure and 
applause. Your dear sister, my darling Livy, will 
leave me on Monday, and I should be willing my 
life should leave me at the same time ; for parting 
with her, and you away, is separating soul and 
body. Remember, however, what I say, as if 
they ivere my last words to you, thiit the very 
first time she finds the least tiling disagreeable, 
that you take her away and send her back to me. 
She is, I am afraid, in a poor state of health. I 
have made her take four glasses of wine every day 
for ten days back, and it has done her, I thmk. 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 177 

much good. Be kind to her, and keep her two or 
three days with you before she goes. I got her 
three gowns and some other clothes, as well as I 
knew how. Be sure you meet her at the coach- 
office on Tuesday evening, and have a coach ready. 
Bring some male friend with you, that she may 
not be imposed upon. Slie will leave me in very, 
very low spirits ; and God only knows what I 
hourly feel for her, and what I am still to feel 
when she leaves me. She goes in the same coacli 
you did. 

" I think the terms you mention for your farce 
hard. If Cooke is concerned, of course he will 
exert himself for the benefit. 

" Paying the full expenses, which I hear will be 
a hundred pounds, is out of all reason. I would 
stipulate for sixty pounds, or gumeas, at most. 

" Bargain I shall go up to play for you, and 
which I think he will not refuse, and it would be 
a great deal in your way. Phillips, like all the 
rest, is a thief Write fuUy by Saturday night's 
mail. God bless you. 

"BOBERT OWENSON." 

OUvia was very beautiful, and whilst at General 
Brownrigg's attracted the attention of Dr. Arthur 
Clarke, physician to the Navy, and a man of higli 
reputation in his profession. " Arthur Clarke was 

VOL. II. N 



178 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

in those days one of the curiosities and celebrities 
of Dublin. A dwarf in height, a buck in dress, a 
wit, a musician, a man of science, a lover of quips 
and anecdotes, a maker of pleasant verses, an 
excellent table-talker, a lion and a lion-hunter, an 
adorer of learning, genius and success — such was 
the tiny, seductive, and most respectable gentle- 
man who proposed to the chai-raing governess of 
General Brownrigg's children." Olivia was sensible 
enough to accept him. lie had money and ])osi- 
tion, gave her a home for her father and old Molly, 
and was ever a most devoted and affectionate hus- 
band. In gratitude for his skill during a severe 
attack of illness, the Duke of Ptichmond created 
him a knight in 1811. 

But we must pass on. Sydney now had become 
the fashion ; everywhere she was welcomed and 
caressed. About this time she made the acq uaint- 
ance of Sir Charles Ormsby, " the ugliest fellow 
and the most acconiplished gentleman in Dublin." 
That they were attached to each other thei-e is 
very little doubt, but it does not appear that there 
had ever been any decided engngeraent between 
them. In 1808 she paid a second visit to London, 
where rank and literature received her witli open 
aiTns. How very different from her first visit 
there ! She quarrelled with Phillips, the j)ublisher, 
about her next novel, " Ida of Athens." The exact 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 179 

cause of the disagreement is not known — she said 
he had treated her barbarously. Messrs. Long- 
mans accepted it, and brought it out in 1809. It 
was tlie first of ]\Iiss Ovvenson's works that was 
severely criticised. The Quarterly honoured her 
with a review, more remarkable for bitterness 
tlian brilliancy. The writer never liked " Ida ;" 
slie used to call it " a bad book," and was rather 
ashamed of it. 

The same year Miss Owenson went on a visit 
to Lady Abercorn, at Baron's Court, in the North 
of Ireland. They had read her novels, and were 
pleased with them ; they met the autlioress, and 
were charmed. They proposed that she should 
come and live with tliem and amuse them. At 
first she demurred, but, acting upon the advice of 
lier friends, she at length acceded to the request 
of tlie Marquis and Marchioness. They were very 
stately and very grand, but, on the whole, ex- 
tremely kind to her.* Here she met the great 
ones of the earth. The Abercorns took her to 
London with them, where she sold her book, " The 
Missionary," for a good sum ; sat to Sir Thomas 
Lawrence to have her portrait painted ; was pre- 
sented to the Princess of Wales, and dined with her! 



* Tbc Marcliioiicss of Abercorn was the original of Lady 
Llanberis, in " O'Donuell." 

N 2 



180 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

" The Missionary" was a novel upon Indian 
subjects, and is not worth the paper upon wliich it 
was written. She sent it to Phillips, although 
she had quarrelled with him ; but as he would not 
give her her price, she disposed of it to Stockdale 
and Miller. 

But although tlie flimily at Baron's Court treated 
her with every kindness and consideration, yet 
she had many vexations. She had to bear with 
all their tempers, and was expected always to be 
in good spirits. " She did not become discon- 
tented," says William Hepworth Dixon, " but slie 
was disenclianted (for the time) with all tliat 
belonged to herself, and saw her own position on 
its true comparative scale. Sydney Owenson, 
from earliest childhood, had depended on herself 
alone for counsel and support. Thei'e is no sign 
that she ever felt those moments of religious aspi- 
ration, when a human being, sensible of its own 
weakness and ignorance, cries for help to Him 
who made us ; there are no ejaculations of prayer, 
or of thanksgiving ; she proudly took up lier own 
burden, and bore it as well as she could ; finding 
her own way and shaping her life according to Iier 
own idea of what ouj^^ht to form her beinj^'s end 
and aim. She was a courageous, indomitable 
spirit ; but the constant dependence on herself, 
the steady concentration of purpose with which 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 181 

she followed oat lier own career, without letting 
herself he turned aside, gave a hardness to her 
nature, which, though it did not destroy her 
kindness and lioncsty of heart, petrified the tender 
grace which makes the charm of goodness. No 
one can judge Sydney Owenson, because no one 
can know all the struggles, difficulties, tempta- 
tions, flatteries, and defamation which she had to 
encomiter, without the shelter or support of a 
home, or the circle of home relatives. She re- 
mained an indestructibly honest woman ; but 
every faculty she possessed had undergone a 
change, which seemed to make her of a different 
species to other women." 

Miss Owenson's literary affairs were not very 
flourishing at this period. " The Missionary" was 
not a great success, and her publishers were 
very dissatisfied. Casting about in her active 
mind for some way of retrieving her failing for- 
tunes, she thought of writing for the stage. From 
her eaily associations, she knew all about dramatic 
situations ; and the comparative success of her 
musical sketch, " The Whim of the Moment," 
gave her courage to try again. However, she 
abandoned the attempt, and went back to Baron's 
Court, where she became engaged to be married 
to Sir Charles — at that time only Dr. — Morgan. 

The match was made up by the Abercorns, 



182 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

whose fjimily physician Dr. Morgan was. He was 
desperately in • love with the lively Glorvina, and 
the promises of devoted affection with which his 
love-letters abound he amply fulfilled during the 
years of their happy married life. Glorvina was 
five or six years older than him — in later life she 
acknowledged to only two. tSlie scarcely seemed 
to know her own mind about the matter, and 
appears — or pretends to appear — very much sur- 
prised at finding herself engaged. Dr. MorgM,n 
was a widower with a good income, handsome, and 
accomplished. " Barring his wild, unfounded love 
for me," says Glorvina, when writing on the sub- 
ject to Mrs. Lefinu, "the creature is perfection. 
The most manly, I had almost said ilaring, tone of 
mind, united to more goodness of heart and dis- 
position than I ever met with in a human being. 
Even with this circle, where all is acquirement 
and accomplishment, it is confessed that his ver- 
satility of talent is unrivalled. There is scarcely 
any art-science he has not cultivated with success, 
and the resources of his mind and memory are 
exhaustless. His manners are too English to be 
popular with the Irish, and though he is reckoned 
a handsome man, it is not that style of thing 

vvhich, if I were to choose for beauty, I sljould 
select — it is too indicative of goodness ; a little 

diablerie would make me wild in love with him." 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 183 

Siicli M'^as the man who eventually became the 
husband of " The Wild Irish Girl." 

The Duke of Ilichraond, then Lord Lieutenant 
of Ireland, knighted Dr. Morgan, out of compli- 
ment to the Abercorns. He had done nothinsf to 
deserve the distinction upon public grounds, and 
cared very little about the title. But Miss Owen- 
son did. She scarcely thought it worth her while 
to take upon her the cares of matrimony as a 
mere " Mrs. "; so Dr. Morgan submitted to have 
the Viceregal sword laid across his shoulder. 

She delayed a,nd temporised about the marriage 
so long, that Sir Charles and the Abercorns were 
very nearly being angry with her. At length they 
resolved to take her by surprise. So one cold 
morning in January, " as she was sitting by the 
library lire in her morning wrapper, Lady Aber- 
corn opened the door and said — 

" Glorvina, come upstairs directly, and be 
married ; there must be no more trifling." 

Glorvina was led by the arm up to Lady Aber- 
corn's dressing-room, where she found chaplain 
and bridegroom awaiting her. There was no 
chance of escape, and the " Wild Irish Girl" was 
married before she had time to tliiiik about it. 

Lady Morgan did not come to her husband 

A pennileas lass, wi' a laug pedigree ; 

slie brought him about five thousand pounds, tlie 



184 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

fruit of her savings. This money was settled upon 
herself, and it was also stipulated in the marriage 
settlements that she should have the exclusive 
control over any of her future earnings. For more 
than a year after their marriage Sir Charles and 
Lady Morgan resided with the Abercorns ; but the 
independent little lady longed for a home of her 
own, so she and her husband set up housekeeping 
in Kildare Street, Dublin. The house was not 
very large, but it was eminently respectable-look- 
ing, and stood facing the old Kildare Street Club- 
house, which was burnt down about fifteen years 
ago.* Lady Morgan at once took her place in 
Dublin society, and became the fashion. But 
before coming to live in Dublin, she experienced 
the great grief of her later years in the death of 
her father. He died at the residence of his 
daughter. Lady Clarke, in Great George Street. 

" O'Donnell" made its appearance about two 
years after Lady Morgan's marriage. It is the 
best novel she ever wrote, and deals boldly and 
incisively with many of the Irish questions of the 
day. The authoress received five hundred and 
fifty pounds for the copyright. The Quarterly 



* In Lady Morgan's time the house was numbered 35 ; it has 
been changed to 39, and ia now occupied by Mr. Charles Thorp, 
solicitor. 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 185 

launched forth against it a bitter tide of invective 
and sarcasm, which had the effect of bringing the 
work all the more prominently before the pubHc. 
It decided her position as a writer of fiction, and 
is considered her masterpiece. 

She and her husband went to France in 1815, 
in order to enable her to collect material for a work 
on that country. Colburn offered her a good price 
for it. She thoroughly enjoyed the society of the 
French capital, and her sketches of life, politics, 
and manners are inimitable, notwithstanding the 
grave charges of impiety and immorality brought 
against her by the reviewers. " France" was 
Lady Morgan s best work, and was so great a 
pecuniary success that Colburn suggested she 
should write a similar work on Italy. In the 
meantime, slie had brought out her novel of 
" Florence Macarthy," in which she revenged 
herself upon Croker, the Quarterly reviewer, by 
giving a ludicrous sketch of him. It is fidl of 
pictures of Dublin society, and if not so romantic, 
is certainly far more amusing than " O'Donnell." 

Colburn offered two thousand pounds for "Italy;" 
and the lively little lady and her husband set off 
in search of material. Their progress on the 
Continent was one series of successes. Judging 
from her own letters, it might appear that the 
j)icture was overdrawn ; but Thomas Moore, who 



186 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

was in Rome at the same time, corroborates all 
she says. When the work appeared, it created 
an enormous sensation — neater even than the 

o 

excitement produced by the publication of 
" France ;" for Italian society was even less 
known than Parisian, • and the habits of the 
people and the condition of the country were 
quite unknown tp the majority of readers. 

Of course, the Quarterly abused the book, 
which it characterised as " a series of offences 
against good morals, good politics, good sense, and 
good taste." Further on, the same review says : 
" We are convinced that this woman is utterly 
incorrigible; secondly, we hope that her indelicacy, 
ignorance, vanity, and malignity, are inimitable, 
and that, therefore, her example is little dan- 
gerous. * 

Never was there a woman so well abused as 
Lady Morgan. But she steadily pursued her in- 
domitable course. Byron called her " Italy" " a 
fearless and excellent work." I^ady Morgan 
usually told the truth about things she saw, and 
the truth is not always pleasant. 

" Salvator Bosa" next appeared, in two volumes, 
and Colburn gave Lady Morgan five hundred 
pounds and a velvet dress for the copyright. 



Quarterly Review, July, 1818. 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 187 

She was continually fighting with her publisher, 
and, marvellous to record, generally got the best 
of it ! Colburn made well by her writings, how- 
ever, and removed his publishing house from his 
circulating library. He set up at No. 8, New 
Burlington Street, W., next door to Lady Cork, 
who, he feared, would be rather angry at his 
presumption, coming next door to her, sho}) 
and all. 

Lady Morgan held her mimic court in the Kil- 
dare Street house, season after season. All the 
wit, rank, beauty, and intellect of the Irisli 
metropolis were to be found congregated in her 
two small drawing-rooms on her assembly nights. 
Slie was the centre round which the Liberal party 
rallied ; although, indeed, all creeds and all parties 
were welcome. She never seemed to care particu- 
larly for O'Connell. " That 

First flower of tho earth, 
First gem of the sea, 

O'Connell," she says, " wants back the days of 
Brian Borru, himself to be king, with a crown of 
emerald shamrocks, a train of yellow velvet, and a 
mantle of Irish tabinet ; a sceptre in one hand, 
and a cross in the other, and the people crying, 
' Long live King O'Coiniell !' This is the object 
of his views and his ambition. Should he ever be 



188 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

King of Ireland, lie should take Charley Phillips 
for his prime minister, Tom Moore for chief bard, 
J. O'Meara for attorney-general, and Counsellor 
Bethel for his chief justice. O'Connell is not a 
man of genius ; he has a sort of conventional 
talent applicable to his purpose as it exists in Ire- 
land — a nisi prius talent which has won much 
popularity. "* 

Lady Morgan and her husband were always 
popular with the Castle set, and no private dinner- 
party at the Viceregal Lodge was considered com- 
plete without the "Wild Irish QuV' Not a 
'* girl" in any sense of the word at this time, but 
bravely keeping up the semblance of youth. She 
was " odd," and she amused people as much by 
her appearance and the audacity of her dress as 
she fascinated by her ready flow of wit. Fancy a 
little, slightly deformed woman of between fifty 
and sixty in a girlish white muslin dress, and a 
green sash ! Yet such was the costume she not 
infrequently wore. In that most impartial sketch, 
"The Friends and Foes of Lady Morgan," the 
chronicler says : — 

" Lady Morgan was a frequent guest at the 
Viceregal drawing-rooms of the Marquis and Mar- 
chioness Wellesley. ' Here it was,' wrote one who 



* " Memoirs," vol. ii. p. 226, 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 189 

participated in the Castle festivities — ' here it was 
that I saw Lady Morgan for the first time ; and as 
I had long pictured her to my imagination as a 
syl])h-llke i)erson, nothing could equal my astonish- 
ment when the celebrated authoress, in propria 
persona, stood before me. She certainly formed a 
strange figure in the midst of that dazzling scene 
of beauty and splendour. Every female present 
wore feathers and trains, but Lady Morgan scorned 
both appendages. Hardly more than four feet 
high, with a slightly curved spine, uneven shoul- 
ders and eyes. Lady Morgan glided about in a 
close- cropped wig, bound by a fillet or solid band 
of gold, her face all animation, and with a witty 
word for everybody. I afterwards saw her in the 
dress-circle at tlie tlieatre. She was cheered 
enthusiastically. Her dress was different from 
the former occasion, but not less original. A red 
Celtic cloak, formed exactly on the plan of 
Grana Wail's, fastened by a rich gold fibula, or 
Irish Tara brooch, imparted to lier little ladyship 
a gorgeous and withal a picturesque appearance, 
whicli antecedent associations considerably 
strengthened.' " 

Lady Morgan's novel of " The O'Briens and the 
Flahertys" came out in 1827. The subject of 
it was more canvassed than that of any of lier 
previous works. Catholic Emancipation liad not 



190 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

yet been carried, and the country was in a state 
of ferment. The story dealt with Irish society 
before and after the Union, and may be referred 
to as a standard work ilhistrative of the state of 
pohtical feehng of the times it purports to represent. 
Her old enemy, the Quarterly, cliaracterised it as 
" a strange farrago of nonsense, licentiousness, and 
Jacobinism ;" and the Literary Gazette, edited by 
William Jordan, also attacked it with unexampled 
rancour. To the accident of the latter attack mjiy 
be attributed the founding of the Athencmim. 
There was a split in the camp, and the rebels wlio 
could not agree to annihilate Lady Morgan set up 
the new censor, with James Silk Buckingham as 
the editor. He was followed by Wentworth 
Dilke, the true friend of the much satirised little 
authoress, Colburn gave her one thousand three 
hvmdred pounds down for the copyright, one 
hundred pounds on the second edition, and another 
hundred on the third edition ; all things consi- 
dered, she made a good bargain — and so did her 
pulilisher. 

" The Book of the Boudoir" succeeded, and was 
more unfavourably received than any of her pi-e- 
vious works. This was probably owing to the 
personal nature of the contents. It was merely a 
reprint of her commonplace book, and possesses all 
her faults of style, in addition to many graces. A 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 191 

second work on " France" followed, and was the 
cause of a quarrel between Lady Morgan and 
Colburn. The authoress knew her own value. 
She wanted to raise her terms, and when her old 
publisher refused, she left him. Colburn was 
in a rage, a]\d vowed to be revenged ; and the 
newspapers of the uext day announced LADY 
MORGAN AT HALF PRICE ! The advertise- 
ment fm*ther stated that, in consequence of the 
great losses Mr. Colburn had sustained by all 
Lady Morgan's works, he had declined the present 
book on " France," and that copies of all her 
books might be had at half price. This was more 
than damaging ; it was insulting. The new pub- 
lishers were in despair, and the matter was brought 
into Court, where Colburn admitted he had done 
his best to injure Lady Morgan, but was sorry 
for it. 

Sir Charles was her fellow-labourer at this time 
in writing for the New Monthly and the Athenceum. 
They had their hands full, yet contrived to see as 
much society as ever. Every foreigner of note, 
wlio came to Dublin, went to Lady Morgan's 
receptions, where she flirted her green fan and 
fancied herself " The Wild Irish Girl" of thirty years 
before. She divided the palm for popularity with 
O'Connell, and was thus immortalised in a local 
ballad : — 



192 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Och, Dublin city, there is no donbtin', 

Bates every city upon tli' say ; 
'Tis there you'd hear O'Connell spoutin', 

And Lady Morgan makin' tay. 
For 'tis th' capital o' th' finest Nation, 

Wid charmiu' pisantry on a fruitful sod, 
Fightin' like divils for conciliation, 

An' hatin' each other for th' love o' God. 

And what a curiosity was not that drawing-room 
in Kildare Street ! Everything in it had a history 
which the indefatigable little hostess was not 
slow to make a fruitful subject of conversation. 
She was a wonderful woman in the way in which 
she kept every one in good humour, tier own 
family adored her ; her friends were ever ready to 
forgive her inconsistencies, and society was ever 
ready to applaud whatever she said or did. 

After Catholic Emancipation was carried, Dublin 
society was shorn of much of its glory. A new, 
wealthy, and vulgar element sprang up, and Lady 
Morgan was too old — although no one dare whisper 
such a thing ! — to try and accommodate herself to 
a new state of things. So she followed the old 
society to London. This was in 1838, and the 
same year her pecuniary circumstances were aug- 
mented by a pension of 300/. a year, in recognition 
of her services to Irish literature. 

Lady Morgan's mode of life in London was little 
different to that in Dublin. She went a great deal 
into society, and received a great deal of society at 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 193 

lier house at Albert Gate. All who were distin- 
guished in the world of fashion or of letters 
visited her, and she was the queen of a little circle. 
To struggling talent she always stretched forth a 
helping hand ; and her love for her native land was, 
to the end, one of her distinguisliing characteristics. 
To her credit be it spoken, Lady Morgan was one of 
the first who strongly advised that every girl, no 
matter wliat her rank in life, should be taught 
some trade or profession, to enable her to earn a 
livelihood in case of necessity. 

In 1840, Lady Morgan gave to the world the 
first two volumes of what she considered the most 
important work of her life — viz., " Woman and 
her Master." She never finished it. Tlie work 
was to be of a most comprehensive character, but 
her eyesiglit failed, and slie was compelled to give 
up the project. It deals witJi the condition of 
women in all times ; the leading motive is, that in 
all ages, women, in spite of the systematic de- 
pression and subordination in which they have 
been kept, and in spite of all difficulties, have not 
only 7iever been subordinated, but have, on the 
contraiy, been always the depositories of the vital 
and leading idea of the time ; that the spiritual 
life in women has always been more pure and 
vigorous than in men ; that women have a more 
subtle and delicate instinct ibr whatsoever is 

vol,. II. o 



194 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

" pure, lovely, and of good report ;" and that, alike 
among the most degraded savage tribes (those in 
Australia and New Guinea) as among the 
Hebrew of old, women were held the oracles, and 
proved themselves to be of " finer clay" than 
their so-called " master"— man. Contrary to what 
might have been expected from the title, there is 
nothing strong-minded about this book, and the tone 
of it has nothing in common with the "Woman's 
nights" question. Next appeared " The Book 
Without a Name," the joint production of Sir 
Charles and Lady Morgan, which was merely a 
collection of their magazine sketches and articles. 

Lady Morgan was perfectly happy in her 
married life, and tlie death of her husband in 
1843 was a severe trial to her. He was a man 
singularly beloved, both in public and in private, 
and, after his death, it was a long time before 
Lady Morgan was ever able to refer to her loss. 

" Oh, my husband ! I cannot endure tliis. I 
was quite unprepared for this. So ends my 
life !" 

The foregoing is the first entry in her diary 
after her widowhood. That she sincerely mourned 
for her faithful fiiend and husband there can be 
no doubt, but the natural elasticity of her tempera- 
ment asserted itself, and after a time she figured 
in the gay world the same as of yore. However, time 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 195 

soon showed her the fleeting nature of all thmgs 
earthly, and in 1847 the death of her beloved 
sister Olivia completely prostrated her. " I can- 
not weep," she says, "and have none to Aveep 
with, for I am alone. All my old friends and new 
acquaintances have been to my door to offer me 
their sympathy, but I am beyond the reach, the 
reach of solace now. I almost think this last blow 
has struck home. So I reel on ! The world is 
my gin or opium ; I take it for a few hours per 
diem — excitement, intoxication, absence ! I re- 
turn to my desolate home, and awaken to all the 
horrors of sobriety." 

We find her still holding her receptions, paying 
visits and receiving them. Her old, antagonistic 
Celtic spirit flashed forth in lier memorable con- 
troversy with Cardinal Wiseman concerning that 
venerable relic of ancient upliolstery so carefully 
preserved in the Vatican — the Chair of St. Peter. 
In her work on " Italy" Lady Morgan had said, 
" tliat the sacril(3gious curiosity of the French 
broke through all obstacles to their seeing the 
Chair of St. Peter. They actually removed its 
superb casket, and discovered tlie relic. Upon 
its mouldering and dusty surface were traced 
carvings, which bore the appearance of letters. 
The Chair was quickly brought into a better light, 
tlie dust and cobwebs removed, and the inscription 

o 2 



196 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

(for inscription it was) ftiithfiilly copied. The 
writing is in Arabic characters, and is the well- 
known confession of the Mahometan faitli : ' There 
is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet.' It is 
supposed that this Chair had been, among the 
spoils of the Crusaders, offered to tlie Church, at a 
time when a taste for antiquarian lore and the 
deciphering of inscriptions was not yet in fashion. 
This story has since been luished up, the Chair 
replaced, and none but the unhallowed remember 
the fact, and none but the audacious repeat it. 
Yet such there are even in Rome." The contro- 
versy excited some discussion, and was one of 
Lady Morgan's latest literary distractions. 

The gradual dropping off of her old friends, one 
by one, warned Lady Morgan tliat "The Wild Irish 
Girl" must before very long pay the debt of Nature. 
Her eyesight had long since been very precarious, 
and lier health not by any means good. But 
still she held on. Her spirits and energy were 
undiminished. She dictated in the morning, ;uk1 
then dressed for the day, received her visitors, and 
generally had a reception in the evening. 

On the 17th of March, 1859— St. Patrick's Day 
■ — Lady Morgan gave a musical party. It was 
one of the gayest she had ever given, and no guest 
there could have fancied the end was so near. 
TJpon that day she caught a cold from which she 



SYDNEY, LADY MORGAN. 197 

never rallied, and died, quietly and calmly, on the 
IGtli of April, 1859. She was in the eighty- third 
year of her age. 

Probably no woman has ever achieved greater 
social and literary triumphs than has Sydney, 
Lady Morgan. She was vain and egoistical ; but 
she would have been more than mortal woman 
had she been otherwise. Flattered, caressed, and 
looked up to, she was always persuaded she was an 
oracle, and she enjoyed the position. But with all 
her vanity, she had an enormous fund of common 
sense ; she never went in debt, and she was perse- 
venng and industrious. She used to say herself, 
that she valued herself much more on her ii\dustry 
than on her genius, because the one " she owed 
to her organisation, but tlie other was a virtue of 
her own reariuir." 




MARGUEETTE, COUNTESS OF 
BLESSTNGTON. 

Born Skptember 1st, 1790. Died June 4tii, 1849. 




NE of the most brilliant women of tliis 
century, Marguerite, Countess of Blea- 
sington, was the third child and second 
daughter of an Irish squireen, named Ednuuid 
Power, of Knockbritt, near Clonmel, in the Comity 
Tipperary, A good-looking Irishman, with a 
certain amount of dash and swagger about him, 
Power lived as best he could upon liis very small 
estate, the income from which never exceeded a 
few hundreds a years. Familiarly known tlirough- 
out the county as " Beau Power" or " Shiver the 
Frills," he kept up an a[)pearance of hos})itality, 
which his actual circumstances did not, by any 
means*, warrant. The natural result was continual 
debt and embarrassment. He was a thoroughly 
unprincipled man — " a rough, rude specimen of 
the Irish middle class of sixty years ago ; Jiand- 
some and rollicking, illiterate and pretentious, 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 199 

fond of rioting and revellings, of field-sports and 
garrison society, dissipated abroad and brutal at 
Lome. In '98 he was a magistrate, bunting 
rebels, tbougb a Roman CatboHc himself; the 
end of whicli hunting was, that he shot one under 
suspicious circumstances of undue haste, was tried 
for murder, but acquitted. The mother, of the 
name of Sheehy, was a plain, uncultivated woman, 
without pretension of any sort ; a negation of all 
gifts, of whom nothing particular is recorded, but 
tluit slie died in Clarendon Street, Dublin, some 
twcMity year's ago."* 

Such were the parents of the beautiful Mar- 
guerite Power. She had two sisters, who became 
rea])ectively Viscountess Canterbury and Countess 
<le St. Marsault. From the village of Knockbritt 
to the summits of the best society in the world 
Wc'is a long way ; yet the three daughters of the 
Irish squireen reached the goal, and each one 
adorned her respective position in her own pecu- 
liar way. 

As a child. Marguerite Power was weakly and 
ailing, and gave no promise of the rare and witch- 
ing beauty for which she was celebrated in after 
life. The sensitive, delicate child was regarded 



* Vide Lady "Wilde's arliclc, " The Couutesa o£ Bleasiugton," in 
the Dahlin Univcrsitij Magazine for March, 1866. 



200 ILLUSTRIOUS IltlSnWOMEN. 

as little likely to grow up to womanhood. The 
atmosphere of her home was uncongenial to her : 
her father was a tyrant, and her mother a most 
commonplace person ; so that she was compara- 
tively lonely, and the imaginative little girl lived 
in a world of her own. 

When she was about ten years of age, lier 
father removed with his family, and went to live 
at Clonmel. It was a garrison town, and the 
society-loving Irishman soon made many acquain- 
tances amongst the officers quartered there. Ilia 
three pretty growing-up daughters were no incon- 
siderable attractions. Marguerite was but fifteen 
when she became the object of the attentions of a 
Captain Murray and a Captain Farmer ; the latter 
proposed to her father for her, was accepted by 
him, and in 1805 they were married. 

Marguerite Power disliked the man whom her 
father, with threats and oaths, desired her to 
receive as her future husband. He was subject to 
fits of ungovernable passion, at which times he 
lost all control over himself Report said he was 
insane, and that Power was aware of this wlien 
he made his daughter marry him. Certainly his 
conduct was such as to give colour to the rumour ; 
for he treated his child-wife with unparalleled 
cruelty and violence. After enduring this treat- 
ment for about three months, she left him and 



MABGUEBITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 201 

returned to her father's house. Here she was so 
coldly received that she left it again, and went to 
live with an aunt. She led a wandering desultory 
life for some years, being occasionally heard of in 
Dublin, in Hampshire, and lastly, in Manchester 
Square, London, where she had set up house- 
keeping in conjunction with her brother llobert. 

Permanently separated from her husband, Mrs. 
Farmer, notwithstanduig the troubles she had 
undergone, had blossomed into a beautiful young 
woman. Uer house in Manchester Square was 
the resort of the most distinguished men of the 
day, conspicuous amongst them bemg Charles 
John Gardiner, Earl of Blessington. In 1817, 
]\Irs. Fai-mer was freed from the legal ties which 
bound her. Her husband was killed in a drunken 
fit, and the following year she married the Earl 
of Blessington. His lordship had been previously 
married, and, at the time of his union with Mrs. 
Farmer, had one daughter living — Lady Harriet 
Anne Frances Gardiner, who married first, in 
1827, the Count D'Orsay, and secondly, in 1853, 
the Hon. Charles Spencer Cowper. 

Lady Blessington and her husband passed the 
first years of their married life in London, and 
their house was the resort of the most distin- 
guished statesmen, poets, and wits of the day. 
Canning and Castlereagh, Lords Palmerston and 



202 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Bussell, Erskine, Kemble, and Mathews, Lawrence 
and Wilkie, all frequented the drawing-rooms of 
the beautifid Lady Blessington, for at this period 
she was in the brightest summer of her raatcliless 
beauty. '* Those who watched and were fascinated 
by her graces, tried in vain to analyse them, and 
say in what her witchery consisted. Her dazzlingly 
clear complexion, dark hair, and rich dark eye- 
brows and lashes, delicate features, ever radiant 
with the light of her mirthful nature, small mouth 
and thin pink lips curling with playful irony, 
small white hands, tiny feet, and incomparable 
shape, were the theme of imiversal admiration, 
not less than her frank, generous, and cordial 
manner — Irish in its heartiness, French in its 
piquancy, and English in its delicacy and refine- 
ment ; and her rich soft voice, which, alike in 
laughter and in speech, enlivened its hearers with 
a sense of new-found happiness. But what most 
elicited enthusiastic praise was the perfect har- 
mony of her entire appearance in rest and in action. 
The emotion of the moment was as manifest in her 
step, her form, her slightest alteration of attitude, 
as in her countenance. She was young and trium- 
phant, gentle, and of a constitution naturally 
mirthful ; these were her halcyon days : every 
moment brought with it a fresh joy, and the 
delight she experienced, manifested in the strangely 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 203 



subtle language of her beauty, was itself the 
quality with which, beyond all her other charms, 
she swayed the affections and imaginations of her 
astonished and almost incredulous admirers." Her 
I'eady sympathy won the confidence of all, and 
this, perhaps, was one cause of the fascination 
which she exerted over others. 

For three years Lord and Lady Blessington 
lived in London after their marriage ; and then 
set out for a tour on the Continent. Lady Bles- 
sington did not wish to leave the brilliant society 
whicli they had gathered around them in London, 
but she yielded in deference to her husband's 
wishes. During the latter year of their residence 
in St. James's Square, the Due de Grammont and 
liis brotlier-in-law, the young Count D'Orsay, 
were amojigst tlieir most frequent visitors. The 
latter accompanied Lord and Lady Blessington on 
their tour to Italy ; Miss Mary Ann Power — her 
Jadysliij)'s sister — and the now veteran comedian, 
Charles Mathews, being also of the party. The 
latter was a protege of Lord Blessington's, and was 
an agreeable addition to the suite. 

" Ciiarles Mathews," says Dr. Madden, " could 
hardly then have been twenty years of age. He 
had been intended for the profession of an archi- 
tect, and was articled to a person of eminence in 
London in that profession. Lord Blessington had 



•20-4 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

kindly offered his father to take charge of the 
young man, and to afford him every facihty of 
jKirsuing his professional studies in Italy. That 
offer was accepted, and for upwards of two years 
young Mathews remained with the Blessingtons 
on the Continent, and was no slight acquisition to 
their party. A merrier man, witliin the limits of 
hecoming mirth, it would be difficult to find. He 
was an admirable mimic, had a marvellous facility 
in catching peculiarities of manners, picking up 
the different dialects of the several parts of Italy 
lie passed through. But with all his comic talents, 
love of fun and frolic, ludicrous fancies, and over- 
flowing gaiety of heart, he never ceased to be a 
gentleman, and to act and feel like a man well- 
bred, well-disposed, and well-principled." 

They became acquainted with Byron during 
their sojourn in Italy, and Lady Blessington has 
left it upon record that neither in conversation nor 
in appearance did he answer the expectations she 
liad formed of him. " Were I asked to })oint out 
the prominent defect of Byron's manner, I should 
pronounce it to be a flippancy incompatible with 
the notion we attach to the author of ' Childe 
Harold' and ' Manfred,' and a want of self- 
possession and dignity that ought to characterise 
a man of birth and genius. Notwitlistanding this 
defect, his manners are very fascinating, more so, 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 206 



perhaps, than if they were dignified ; but he is 
too gay, too flippant for a poet."* 

Count D'Orsay travelled with the Blessingtons 
everywhere, and this " glass of fasliion and mould 
of form" was an universal favourite wherever he 
went. Extraoidinarily gifted. Loth in mind a,nd 
in person, he consented to wreck his powers and 
wealth on the paltry ambition of fashionable 
notoriety — to give laws to tailors, and furnish 
designs for new carriages to Long Acre. 

In the year 1823, whilst Lord and Lady Bles- 
sington were yet at Genoa, news reached them of the 
death of Lord Mountjoy, his lordship's son and 
heir by his first marriage. The boy was in his 
tenth year, and was the only legitimate son of the 
Earl ; who, upon this child's death, made a strange 
disposal of his property. The chief provisions of 
Lord Blessingtons revised will were, after pro- 
viding for his wife, that Count Alfred D'Orsay 
was to hold in trust a large portion of his pro- 
perty, which was to become his upon his marriage 
with either of the daughters of his lordship. He 
had only one legitimate daughter, but his natural 
daughter, Emily Bosalie Hamilton, was treated 
with equal consideration. It was optional which 
of the young ladies the Count married. He chose 



* Vide " Idler in Italy," p. 892. 



206 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Lady Harriet Frances Gardiner, without having 
ever seen her, her legitimacy probably turning the 
balance in her favour with the proud D'Orsays. 

They were married on the 1st of December, 
1827, Lady Harriet being then fifteen years and 
four months old. The wedding took place at 
Rome, and the marriage was an unhappy one, 
" Taken from school without any knowledge of the 
world, acquaintance with society, or its usages 
and forms, wholly inexperienced, transferred to the 
care of strangers, and naturally indisposed to any 
exertion that might lead to efioits to conciliate 
them ; she was brought from her own country to 
a distant land, to wed a man she had never seen, 
up to the period of her arrival in Italy, wliere, 
within a few weeks of her first meeting with that 
foreign gentleman who had been on terms of inti- 
macy with her father, she was destined to become 
his bride. 

" Lady Harriet was exceedingly girlish-looking, 
ipale, and rather inanimate in expression, silent 
and reserved. There was no appearance of fami- 
liarity with any one around her, no air or look of 
.womanhood, no semblance of satisfaction in her 
new position, were to be observed in her demeanour 
or deportment. She seldom or never spoke ; she 
was little noticed ; she was looked on as a mere 
school-girl. I think her feelings were crushed, 



MARGUERITE, C0UNTE88 OF BLESSINGTON. 207 

repressed, and her emotions driven inwards, by 
the sense of slight and indifference, and by the 
strangeness and coldness of everything around 
her ; and slie became indifferent and strange and 
cold, and apparently devoid of all vivacity and 
interest in society, or in the company of any 
person in it. People were mistaken in her ; and 
she, perhaps, was also mistaken in others. Her 
father's act had led to all these misconceptions and 
misconstructions, ending in suspicions, animosities, 
aversions, and total estrangements."* 

Count D'Orsay received about 40,000/. fortune 
with his wife, from whom he parted almost at the 
church door. Tliey never cared for each other, 
and soon separated, although living under the same 
roof and in the same house with the Blessingtons. 
The marriage was a grave mistake, and nothing to 
any purpose can be urged in extenuation of it. 

The Italian life of Lord and Lady Blessington 
and their party must, on the whole, have been a 
pleasant one. Their wealth, station, and intel- 
lectual acquirements, made them welcome every- 
where ; and it is significant that, notwithstanding 
the unhappy rumours of later . years, the friends 
which Lady Blessington then made continued 
faithful to her through hfe. 



* " McmoiiH of Lady Jilossuigtou," vol. i. p. 12G. 



208 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 



In 1828 they returned to Paris, on their way 
home to England, For a year they stayed in the 
gay French capital, residing at first in the Hotel 
de Terasse, After a time they rented the Hotel 
Ney, the most magnificent mansion in Paris. Not 
content with its splendour, Lord Blessington re- 
decorated it in a lavish style, more befitting the 
income of a prince than that of an Irish landlord. 
It is impossible to avoid remarking that in doing 
so his lordship was laying the foundation of the 
Encumbered Estates Court Jurisdiction in Ire- 
land. Everything was on a scale of sumptuous 
magnificence ; but the crowning effort of the 
upholsterer's taste was reserved for her ladyship's 
bedroom and dressing-room. " The whole fitting- 
up," says Lady Blessington, in one of her letters, 
" is in exquisite taste ; and, as usual, when my most 
gallant of all gallant husbands that it ever fell to 
the happy lot of woman to possess, interferes, no ex- 
pense has been spared. The bed, which is silvered 
instead of gilt, rests on the backs of two large 
silver swans, so exquisitely sculptured, that every 
feather is in alto-relievo, and looks as fleecy as 
those of the living bird. The recess in which it is 
placed is lined with white fluted silk, bordei-ed 
with blue embossed lace ; and from tlie columns 
that support the frieze of the recess, pale blue silk 
curtains, lined with white, are hung, which, when 
drawn, conceal the recess altogether. . 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 209 

" A silvered sofa has been made to fit the side 
of the room opposite the fireplace, near to which 
stands a most inviting bergere. An escritoire 
occupies one panel, a bookstand the other, and 
a rich coffer for jewels forms a pendant to a simi- 
lar one for lace or India shawls. A carpet of 
uncut pile, of a pale blue, a silver lamp, and a 
Psyche glass, the ornaments silvered, to correspond 
with, the decorations of the chamber, complete the 
furniture. The hangings of the di*essing-room are 
of blue silk, covered with lace, and trimmed with 
rich frills of the same material, as are also the 
dressing-stands and chaire longue ; and the carpet 
and lamp are similar to those of the bed. A 
toilette-table stands before the window, and small 
jardinieres are placed in front of each panel of 
looking-glass, but so low as not to impede a full 
view of the person dressing in this beautiful little 
sanctuary. The salle du bain is draped with white 
muslin, trimmed with lace ; and the sofa and the 
herghre are covered with the same. The bath is 
of marble, inserted in the floor, with which its 
surface is level. On the ceihng over it is a 
painting of Flora, scattering flowers with one 
hand, while from the other is suspended an 
alabaster lamp, in the form of a lotus." 

Their sojourn in Paris was a brilliant one, but it 
was suddenly brought to a close in May, 1829, by 

VOL, II. P 



210 illusthious irishwomen. 

the unexpected death, from apoplexy, of Lord 
Blessington. He had only returned from London 
a few days previously, whither he had gone on 
business connected with the Emancipation Bill. 
By his death Lady Blessington was redviced to aii 
income of 2000/., in place of 30,000/. So the 
Hotel Ney was given up, and in 1830 Lady 
lUessington, accompanied hy the Count and Coiui- 
tess H'Orsay, returned to London. Not veiy long- 
after their return, the Count and Countess were 
formally separated; and for the sum of 100,000/. 
he consented to give up his claim upon the Bles- 
sington estates. The terms were agreed to, 
and the money paid hy instalments. The Coimtess 
retired to Paris, and the Count took up his 
residence with Lady Blessington at Gore House. 
When she had first come to London, she had 
rented a house in Seamore Place, and the Count 
had lived in Curzon Street, almost next door 
to her. 

No sooner had Lady Blessington removed to 
Gore House, than the world began ti> talk about 
her. She was too beautiful, too clever, too f iscina- 
ting, and too independent to escape from the 
tongue of calumny. The world gave her Count 
D'Orsay for a lover, although she was twelve 
years older tlian him, the consequence being that 
the beautiful hostess was the only lady to be seen 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 211 

amongst the brilliant society wliicli frequented 
Gore House. 

Every man of note was to be seen in Lady 
Blessinirton's salons durin^r tlie season. Slie had 
now seriously turned her tlioughts to literature as 
a means of augmenting her income, and in The 
New Monthly appeared her " Conversations with 
Lord Byron," which was subsequently pubhshed 
in one volume. It at once established her literary 
reputation, and novels, tales, verses, reviews, and 
all kinds of miscellaneous literary matter flowed 
from her ready pen. They were all of an ephe- 
meral nature, and nothing that Lady Blessington 
has written has survived the time when she, 
lierself, was the fashion. AVe find her verses and 
sketclies embalmed in " Armuals," " Keepsakes," 
" Foi'gct-me-nots," and " Books of Beauty ;" for it 
was during her time that the e])idemic of illustrated 
Annuals broke out in England, and raged with 
equal flimsiness and platitude for about twenty 
years. 

A titled editress was necessary for the success 
of these literary speculations, and her ladyship 
entered the ranks. It was one of her ways of 
gaining popularity, for it brought her into contact 
with many eminent literaiy men. At the same 
time it involved her in much expense, for she was 
vmder the necessity of entertaining the peojjle she 

P 2 



212 ILLUSTniOUS IRISHWOMEN- 



asked for contributions. Moreover, it called for 
much mechanical drudgery — in a word, it made her 
life miserable. 

*' The whole system of the Annuals," says Lady 
Wilde, " was, in fact, a speculation based on per- 
sonal vanity. Court beauties had their pictures 
engraved with (as Dickens describes) the tradi- 
tional background of flower-pots ; and then verses 
were ordered by the editor to suit these portraits. 
When the mothers of the nobilitv were exhausted, 
the annualists turned to the children of the no- 
bility, whose portraits came out with impossible 
eyes and hair, white frocks, the flower-pot, and a 
dog. For them verses were in like manner ordered ; 
and, of course, the sale was unprecedented. Thus 
we find Lady Blessington petitioning a contributor, 
and really a man of genius, though he had caught 
the epidemic — Dr. William Beattie — for ' three or 
four stanzas for the work named " Buds and 
Blossoms," to contain the portraits of all the 
children of the nobility — tlie children for the illus- 
tration are the three sons of the Duke of Buccleufjh, 
and an allusion to the f imily would add interest 
to the subject.' 

" To the same poet — too yielding, perhaps, not 
to be made the prey of these infantile bores — she 
writes again with lamentable pertinacity — 

*' ' Will you write me a page of verse for the 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 213 

portrait of Miss Forrester ; the joung lady is 
seated with a little dog on her lap, which she 
looks at rather pensively ; she is fair, with light 
hair, and is in monrning.' " 

At this [)eriod Lady Blessington made about 
2000/. a year by the Annuals. She did not pay 
contributors, except when a great name was ne- 
cessary for a bait. Thomas Moore was offered 
600/. for one hundred and twenty lines for " The 
Keepsake," but he declined. After a tinie the 
pubhc began to tire of this species of literature, 
and a corresponding falling off in Lady Blessing- 
ton's income was the residt. Moreover, her novels 
did not sell so well as formerly. Her best works 
of fiction were " The Confessions of an Elderly 
Lady" and " The Confessions of an Elderly Gentle- 
mtm ;" they appeared respectively in 1837 and 
1838. The quarrelsome Quarterly— q^b it might 
Avith justice be called during these few years — 
ignored them altogether, but the Edinburgh 
Review says : — 

" Modern society, which is not very rich in 
materials for the stage, produces the exact varieties 
of life most favourable to the genius of the novelist. 
The comic dramatist requires strong contrasts and 
marked effects ; and the wider the distinctions 
between ranks and classes, the deeper the divisions 
that circumstances draw between man and man, 



214 ILLUSTRIOUS lEISHWOMEN. 

the better for the purposes of the stage. Tlie 
novehst, on tlie contrary, more subtle, analytic,. 
and refining thiui tlie dramatist, inclining rather 
to delicate fidelity, to minute details, than to bold 
exaggeration of vehement contrasts, finds scope 
for his art precisely where society appears most; 
level and uniform ; and in proportion to tlie 
apparent similarity of the general flock is the skill 
and beauty with which individualities are dis- 
covered and Enforced. 

" The novels of Lady Blessington are strongly 
characterised Ijy the social phenomena of the times 
— they are peculiarly the Rowans de Societe — the 
characters that raove and breathe throughout them, 
are the actual persons of the great world, and the. 
reflections with which they abound belong to the 
philosophy of one who has well examined the 
existing manners. In her writing there has been 
a mai'ked and progressive improvement, as if by 
the self-study that belongs to application, powers 
previously unknown to herself had been gradually 
developed. 

"The 'Confessions of an Elderly Lady' and 
* Confessions of an Elderly Gentleman' are more, 
popular in their nature than the ' Victims of 
Society,' and more sparkling in their execution. 
They contain much shrewd but quiet satire, and. 
much subtlety of observation ; while here and, 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTOK 215 

there, in tlie midst of their most lively irony, 
there are charming touches of reflective morality- 
mid unconscious pathos." 

But, despite all tliis praise, Lady Blessington's 
:^ime as a writer of fiction was on the wane, and 
pressing pecuniary matters urged her to cast aboiit 
in her fertile nnnd for some other way of supple- 
menting her rapidly decreasing income. Her last 
novel w^as called " Country Quarters," and, de- 
spairing of finding a publislier, she ran it through a 
news])aper. The Daih/ Neifus offered her 400/. a 
yeai" for contributing Exclusive Intelligence^ or 
Gossiping News from High Quarters. She rated 
her services at double the sum, and threw up the 
engagement in six months, for which term the 
proprietors of the paper paid her 250/. 

The triteness of the saying that " troubles never 
come singly" is a good test of its truth ; and Lady 
Blessington bitterly proved the applicability of the 
proverb. Not ojily was her income reduced in 
consequence of the failure of her literary specula- 
tions, but her jointure began to be j^aid very 
irregularly. It is but another instance of how the 
extremes of society are connected ! Because the 
fields are lying black around an Irish cabin, the 
<rreat London world of life and li^ht is thrown 
mto terror and dismay. 

'' The j)otato blight fell on Gore House, Irish 



216 ILLUSTRIOUS IlilSHWOMEN. 

rents were not paid, and as soon as the suspicion 
of inability to meet demands got abroad, demands 
poured in. There were no means of meeting them. 
Lady Blessington's expenditure had long been more 
than double her receipts. Confusion and dismay 
came gathering darkly over the magnificence." 

There is very little doubt but that Count 
D'Orsay's extravagance was a fruitful source of 
the monetary embarrassments at Gore House. He 
had the tastes of a Sybarite ; it was a sort ol 
religion with him to have the best of everything 
in life ; and he used to say that when so far 
reduced that he could not have the best brougliam, 
he would have the best umbrella. Tradesmen 
gave him unlimited credit, for the mere sake ol 
having the honour of announcing that he employed 
them. But when a bill for 400/. was presented for 
Count D'Orsay's boots, and the money not being 
forthcoming, the fact was whispered abroad, and 
the house was besieged by bailiffs. 

Finally, to meet the most urgent ordinary 
demands. Lady Blessington was obliged to pawn 
her diamonds. With radiant smiles on hev 
beautiful face, the hostess received her guests 
night after night, but with terror in her heart 
lest the next person to walk into the room 
might be a bailiff. This state of things con- 
tinued for two years. The Count never went 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 217 

out except on Sundays, and the hall door was 
never opened without precautions. At length, 
however, a bailiff effected an entrance in disguise. 
His valet told the Count, who repUed with his 
customary nonchalance, " Bah ! bah !" But Lady 
Blessington saw that the last stake had been played 
for and lost, and, going to his studio, implored of 
him to fly. So, with only a valet and a port- 
manteau, the brilliant D'Orsay escaped by a back 
door, and fled to France, leaving behind him debts 
to the amount of a hundred thousand pounds. 

Lady Blessington did not stay long after him in 
London. Seeing there was no possibility of re- 
trieving her fallen fortunes, she gave up Gore 
House and its artistic treasures to her creditors, 
and, accompanied by her two nieces, followed 
Count D'Orsay to Paris. 

Everything was sold by auction. The sale 
realised over 13,000/., out of which a balance of 
eleven pounds was paid to Lady Blessington after 
the creditors' demands had been satisfied. Gore 
House and its contents were on view for some 
days previous to the sale, and above twenty 
thousand persons came to gaze upon the wreck. 
Many of them had been welcomed and feasted in 
those halls ; yet, of all who came to see the show, 
Thackeray, the caustic satirist, the bitter de- 
nouncer of women, was the only one who showed 



218 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

any visible emotion. It was a realistic "Vanity- 
Fair" to the great novelist, and one thinks the 
better of him for those tears. 

Never was there a more complete wreck. Dr. 
Madden thus describes the sale : — 

" There was a large assemblage of people of rank. 
Every room was thronged ; the well-known library 
saloon in which the conversaziones took place was 
crowded, bnt not witli guests. The armchair, in 
which the lady of the mansion was wont to sit, 
was occupied by a stout, coarse gentleman of the 
Jewish persuasion, busily engaged in examining a 
marble hand extended on a book, the fingers of 
which were modelled from a cast of those of the 
absent mistress of the establishment. People, as 
they passed through the room, poked the furniture, 
pulled about the precious objects of art and orna- 
ments of various kinds that lay on the table, and 
some made jests and ribald jokes on the scene 
they witnessed. In another apartment, where 
the pictures were being sold, portraits by ] Law- 
rence, sketches by Landseer and Maclise, innu- 
merable likenesses of Lady Blessington hy various 
artists; several of the Count D'Orsay, I'oprcscnting 
him driving, riding out on horseback, sporting and 
at work in his studio ; his own collection of por- 
traits of all the frequenters of Gore House, in quick 
succession, were brought to the hammer. It was 



MARGUEPvITE, countess of BLESSINGTON. 219 

tlie most signal ruin of an establishment of a person . 
of liigli rank I had ever witnessed." 

Before it had come into the j^ossession of Lady 
Blessington, Gore House had belonged to William 
Wilberforce, of anti-slavery memory, who records 
that in it he "repeated the 119th Psalm in 
great comfort." Apropos of these two occupants, 
James Smith, one of the authors of "Kejected. 
Addresses," wrote — 

The chains from which he freed the Blacks, 
She rivets ou the Whites ! 

Eventually it passed into the hands of the famous 
Soyer. " Tlie culinary replaced the literary ;" and 
so, for ever after, Gore House will be associated with 
social freedom, mental light, and corporeal regene- 
i-ation. 

• Lady Blessington was now sixty years of age, 
— youth, beauty, wealth, and her brilliant, though 
equivocal, position gone. She came to Paris in 
April, 1849, and after a little time her old energy 
appeared to return. She seems to have hoped a 
good deal from the friendship of Louis Napoleon, 
who, when a nameless nobody in London, had 
been a constant visitor at Gore House. But the: 
President, as he was then, did not give his former 
friend and benefactress a very warm reception. 
The future Em2)eror once invited her to dinner,. 



220 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

and she went with her nieces and Count D'Orsay, 
but there his attention began and ended. 

" Ah ! Ah ! Lady Blessington !" said the Prince 
President shortly after, when his open carriage 
was locked in a street stoppage with that of her 
ladyship, " are you going to stop long in Paris ?" 

With inimitable satire, accompanied by an 
arch look, she replied, — "I don't know — are 
you f " 

Many heard the polished sarcasm, and ere niglit 
it was repeated in every salon in the City of 
Pleasure. 

Lady Blessington's jointure now began to be 
paid more regularly, and she took a house in Paris, 
which she furnished with something of her former 
magnificence. She determined again to devote 
herself to literary labour, and had already planned 
several works ; but insidious disease had been 
gradually gaining power. On the 3rd of June 
she removed into her new house, apparently in 
better health and spirits than she had been for 
some time. She became ill during the night with 
an attack of spasms of the heart. Her devoted 
nieces used every means in their power to relieve 
lier. The first violence of the agony passed away, and 
turning to her niece she asked, " Quelle lieure est- 
il f " They were the last words she ever spoke ; 
{uid so quietly did she pass away, that those around 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLES8INGT0N. 221 

lier did not know the moment when for her Time 
was no more. 

Count D'Orsay's grief at her death was exces- 
sive. " Much as she was to us,"' writes her niece, 
" we cannot but feel that to him she was all — the 
centre of his existence, round which his recollec- 
tions, thoughts, hopes, and plans turned." He 
designed her monument at St. Germain. It is a 
pyramid of granite, standing on a square platfonn, 
on a level with the surrounding ground, but 
divided from it by a deep fosse, whose sloping 
sides are covered with green turf and Irish ivy, 
transplanted from the garden of the house where 
she was born. Within are two stone sarcophagi. 
One contains the cofhn of Marguerite, Countess of 
Blessington : the other that of Count D'Orsay, 
who survived his beloved companion but three 
years. 

Two epitaphs were written upon her — one by 
Barry Cornwall, the other, in Latin, by Walter 
Savage Landor. Both bear ample testimony to 
her gentleness, genius, and generosity. The latter 
was proverbial ; and for years she supported a 
number of needy Irish relatives, besides being 
ready at all times with both money and sympathy 
whenever she heard a tale of distress. 

Lady Blessington was born for society, and her 
writings were for the society of the day. Graceful 



222 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

and sparkling, tliey enjoyed a bntteifly popularity 
so long as their writer was the fasliion. Far more 
interesting than her novels are her " Conversations 
with Lord Byron" and her " Idler in Italy ;" for 
she had wonderful powers of observation, and the 
inestimable faculty of saying a great deal in a few 
words. Her correspondence was enormous, Walter 
Savage Landor being one of her constant corre- 
spondents — indeed, it includes every name of note 
of the day. Her own letters are charming — per- 
haps a little too complimentary sometimes, but 
invariably genial and kind. She always had a 
pleasant word to say, and she said it well and 
gracefully. What she lacked was a power of deep 
mental grasp ; there was 7iothing intense, nothing 
deeply in earnest about her. Site lived on pas- 
sionately from day to day, charmed willi all that 
was pleasant, and charming every one. 

Mr. S. C. Hall, in his pleasant " Book of 
Memories," gives the following account of her : — 

"It was in the year 1832 I first knew Lady 
Blessington. I was then editor of the A^ew ]\lonthly 
Magazine, and I had called upon her (in Seamore 
Place) in consequence of her having ex[)ressed a 
wish to write for that journal. She had then 
done but little with her pen, and that little not 
calculated to make a sensation. The subjects she 



MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. 223 

suggested were not tempting ; but she fell into 
discourse of Lord Byron, telling nie some striking 
anecdotes concerning him. It was obvious to say 
what I did say— ' If you desire to write for the 
New Montldy, why not put on paper what you 
have been saying in words V Out of that thought 
grew the ' Conversations with Lord Byron, by 
Lady Blessington,' which obtained large popu- 
larity, and led to her becoming an author by 
profession. 

'' She may be considered and described as then 
in 'her prime,' although past forty. It is only 
English, and, perhaps more so. Irishwomen, at 
that period of life who are even more lovely in age 
than in yoiitli. She was inclined to embonpoint, 
her hair abundant, and of a lightish brown, but 
slic nlways wore cups fastened under the chin ; her 
complexion fair and healthily tinged, deriving no 
aid from art. She was too stout to be graceful, 
but she had a natural grace tliat regulated all her 
movements. There was nothing artificial in aught 
she said or did ; nothing hurried or self-distrustful 
about her ; she seemed perfectly conscious of 
power, but without the slightest assumption or 
pretence. It was easy to believe in her fascinating 
influence over all with whom she came in contact ; 
but it was as little difficult to feel assured that 



224 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

such influence would be exercised with generosity, 
consideration, and sympathy. No one more 
carefully studied how to grow old gracefully than 
did Lady Blessington ; no one knew better that 
the charms of youth are not the attractions of age. 
She was ever admirably dressed, but afi^ected none 
of the adornments that become deformities when 
out of harmony with Time. " 




ELIZA EYVES. 



Died 1797. 




EYOND the mere fact that she was an 
Irishwoman who had come to London 
hopmg to earn a Uving by writing, we 
know nothing more of the private hfe of Ehza 
Ilyves. D 'Israeli says she was descended from an 
Irish family of distinction, and as there was, about 
the beginning of the eighteenth century, a Jerome 
Ilyves, D.D., Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, 
Dublin, it is not improbable but that she was a 
member of this family. 

In her earlier days she had possessed consider 
able property, but was deprived of it through the 
chicanery of the law. Being thus left destitute, 
she looked to her pen as a source of existence. 

Her first hteraiy effort was a comic opera, 
called " The Prude," which she wrote in 1777. 
Failing in her endeavours to have it acted, she 
published it amongst a collection of her poems. 
The dialogue of this piece is chaste, animated, and 
original ; and it is very likely that the high tone 
which pervades it was the cause of its failure in an 

VOL. II. Q 



226 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

age when a certain amount of coarseness was ne- 
cessary to make a comic piece take the taste of 
the audience. The Prude of the piece is a pre- 
tended one, being none other than an intriguing 
old woman, aunt to the heroine of the drama. 
She is represented as concerting with a friar, 
Dominick Doubleface, to force her niece into a 
nunnery, and to trick her brother out of his pro- 
perty. These schemes are frustrated by means of 
a nobleman in disguise, a lover of the lady, who in 
the end is united to her. The period of the action 
of this performance is in the leign of Queen Mary. 
The incidents are rapid, and the treatment 
original. 

Notwitlistanding this iliilure, Miss Hyves again 
essayed dramatic literature. She tried comedy 
this time, and produced " The Debt of Honour," 
which was never printed. She sent it to amanager — 
probably Harris of Covent Garden — who, after 
keeping it for some years, returned it. He did 
his best, however, to make reparation for the 
delay, for, hearing the authoress was in pecuniary 
distress, he forwarded to her, along with her 
manuscript, a bank-note for one hundred pounds. 

Finding dramatic writing did not pay her. Miss 
Ryi^es turned her attention to wliat was then 
called " elegant literature." She wrote verses for 
the few periodicals of the day. They were written 



ELIZA BYVE8. 227 



ill the Cliloe and Streplion style then fashionable ; 
but when the authoress found she was only repaid 
by a return copy of verses in the next number, she 
abandoned this unfruitful field. Her verses are 
much above the average of the Delia Cruscan 
school, and, like everything else she has written, 
seem more like the productions of a man than 
those of a woman. Out of many we select the 
following : — 

ODE TO SENSIBILITY. 

The sordid wretch who ne'er has known, 

To feci for miseries not his own ; 

Whose lazy pulse serenely beats, 

While injured worth her wrongs repeats; 

Dead to each sense of joy or pain, 

A useless link in Nature's chain, 

May boast the calm which I disdain. 

Give me a generous soul that glows 
With others' transports, others' woes, 
Whose noble nature scorns to bend, 
Though Fate her iron scourge extend; 
But bravely bears the galling yoke, 
And smiles superior to the stroke. 
With spirit free and mind unbroke. 

Yet, by compassion touched, not fear, 
Sheds the soft sympathising tear, 
In tribute to Affliction's claim 
Or envied Merit's wounded fame. 
Let Stoics scoff, I'd rather be 
Thus curst with Sensibility, 
Than share their boasted Apathy. 

Miss Ryves's perseverance was enormous. When 
the drama and poetry failed to procure her even 

Q 2 



228 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

the commonest necessaries of life, she was advised 
to try translations from modem authors. Although 
an excellent classical scholar, she was quite un- 
acquainted with any modern continental language. 
To remedy this defect she took an obscure lodging 
at Islington, and lived there in complete solitude 
until she had produced an excellent version of 
Rousseau's " Social Compact," Raynals " Letter to 
the National Assembly," and finally translated De 
la Croix's " Review of the Constitutions of the 
Principal States of Europe." To these translations 
she appended erudite and valuable notes. From a 
pecuniary point of view these efforts were not 
successful, and she returned to London broken in 
health and bitterly disappointed. 

"Yet," says D'Israoli tlie elder, ** even at a 
moment so unfavourable, her ardent spirit engaged 
in a translation of Froissart. At the British 
Museum I have seen her connino- over the mno-uifi- 

O C5 

cent and voluminous MS. of the old chronich^r, 
and by its side Lord Berners' version, ])rinted in 
the reign of Henry VII I. It was evident that 
his lordship was employed as a spy upon Froissart, 
to inform her of what was going forward in the 
French camp ; and she soon perceived, for hei- 
taste was delicate, that it required an ancient lord 
and knight, with all his antiquity of phrase, to 
break a lance with the still more ancient chivalric 



ELIZA BYVES. 229 



Freiicliman. The familiar elegance of modern 
style failed to preserve tlie picturesque touches 
and the naive graces of the chronicler, who wrote 
as the mailed knight comhated — roughly or grace- 
fully, as suited the tilt or the field. She vailed to 
Lord Berners ; while she felt it was here necessary 
to understand old French, and then to write in 
old Englisli." 

Again were her lahours almost profitless. She 
now turned her thoughts to novel writing, and 
" The Hermit of Snowdon" was published in about 
1794. It possessed much merit; it is full of 
indescribable pathos, and in it the authoress is 
supposed to liave reproduced her own unfortunate 
and unsuccessful literary career. In common with 
everything written by Miss Byves, it bears the 
impress of having emanated from the mmd of a 
refined and educated gentlewoman. 

She was a woman of vast reading and extraor- 
dinary attainments. When Dodsley, the founder 
of the Annual Register, gave up the management 
of it, Miss Kyves was engaged to conduct the 
historical and political department. This she did 
creditably for some years, and was ver}' badly 
paid for her work. Some conception of the dignity 
and magnitude of the situation may be formed, 
when we record tliat Edmund Bui'ke did not 
disdain to fill the same post. 



230 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

So little profitable were all these varied labours, 
that Miss E,yves could not, at length, make her 
"daily bread." Her contemporaries say of her, 
that she was modest and unassuming ; and a 
writer in the Gentleman's Magaziiie {or July, 1797, 
bears the following testimony to her amiable 
character : — 

" A woman more benevolent than this God 
never created. When her affairs were in a most 
'poetical posture^ (as indeed they often were, for 
she managed them but inconsiderately), and she 
lodged in an obscure part of the City, she would 
spend her last shillings, herself unprovided with a 
dinner, in the purchase of a joint of meat for a 
starving family that occupied the room aljove her." 

Eliza Ilyves was a woman of learning and genius, 
and an unsuccessful authoress. Her literary work 
compares favourably with the masculine writing 
of the day ; yet, because she was a sensitive, 
unpractical woman, her labours were either stolen 
or paid for with such a pittance, that it did not 
suffice to keep body and soul together. She died 
of absolute want, in a miserable lodgmg in Store 
Street, London, on April 29th, 1797. 

Such was Eliza Ryves. Not beautiful nor 
interesting in her person, but with an almost 
masculine grasp of mind, yet susceptible of all 
the delicacy of feminine softness, and a virtuous 



ELIZA RYVES. 



231 



woman amidst all lier despair. Genius allied with 
success has hitherto been our theme. Because of 
her misfortunes it did not seem just that the name 
of Eliza Ryves should be omitted from this roll 
of talented Irishwomen ; therefore, we have en- 
deavoured to glean these brief details of her career, 
which serves further to endorse the assertion that 
the world will not beheve in genius unless it be 
allied with success. 




HELEN SELINA, COUNTESS OF 
GIFFORD. 



Born 1807. Died 1867. 




ETTER known by her name of Lady 
Dufferin, the Countess of Gifford was tlie 
eldest daughter of Thomas Slieridan, and 
grand-daughter of the famous Richard Brinsley 
Sheridan. This family has been almost unique in 
the brilliancy and attractiveness of its members, 
from the witty dramatist down to his three grand- 
daughters : " The beautiful sisters," Lady Dufferin, 
the Hon. Mrs. Norton, and the Duchess of 
Somerset. 

Helen Selina Sheridan — who afterwards became 
successively Lady Dufferin and Countess of Gifford 
— was born in 1807. Whilst she and her sisters 
were yet children, their father died at the Cape of 
Good Hope, whither he had gone in the hope of 
renovating his failing health ; and henceforth their 
mother devoted herself to their education. They 
lived at Hampton Court, and here the genius of the 
two gifted elder sisters first found vent in poetry. 
They produced, jointly, the " Dandie's Rout," in 



HELEN 8ELINA, COUNTESS OF GIFFOBD. 233 

wliicli the foppery of the day was quizzed by both 
l^en and pencil. 

In 1825, Helen Selina Sheridan married Captain 
the Honourable Price Blackwood, who subse- 
quently became Lord DufTerin and Clandeboye ; and 
by whom she had a son, the present Lord Dufferin. 
Her husband died in 1841, not very long after he 
had succeeded to the title ; and in October, 1862, 
Lady DufFerin married, secondly, the late Earl 
of Gilford, eldest son of the Marquis of Tweed- 
dale, who died in the December of the same 
year. 

As Lady Dufferin she played no unimportant 
part in the brilliant society her distinguished 
position entitled her to, and of which her wit and 
genius made her so great on ornament. Less 
strikingly beautiful than her more popularly known 
sister, Mrs, Norton, the Countess of Gilford was 
remarkable for sweetness of voice, and a rare fasci- 
nation of manner. This sweetness is observable 
in her songs and ballads, which are amongst the 
best in the English language. Wherever that lan- 
guage is spoken, the beautiful and pathetic ballad 
of " The Irish Emigrant" is known ; and had this 
gifted daughter, of a gifted race, never written 
another line, these beautiful verses would have 
been enough to endear her name for ever to the 
hearts of her country people. As they cannot be 



23t ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

too widely known we subjoin them in tJieir en- 
tirety : — 

THE LAMENT OF THE lEISH EMIGRANT. 

I'm sittin' on the stile, Mary, 

Where we sat side by side, 
On a bright May mornin', long ago. 

When first you were my bride ; 
The corn was springin' fresh and green. 

And the lark sang loud and high — 
And the red was on your lip, Mary, 

And the love-light in your eye. 

The place is little changed, Mary, 

The day is bright as then, 
The lark's loud song is in my oar, 

And the corn is green again ; 
But I miss the soft clasp of your hand. 

And your breath, warm on my cheek. 
And I still keep list'nin' for the words 

You never more will speak. 

'Tis but a step down yonder lane. 

And the little church stands near — 
The church where we were wed, Mary, 

I see the spire from here. 
But the graveyard lies between, Mary, 

And my step might break your rest — 
For I've laid you, darling ! down to sleep, 

With your baby on your breast. 

I'm very lonely now, Mary, 

For the poor make no new friends ; 
But, oh ! they love the better still. 

The few our Father sends ! 
And you were all I had, Mary, 

My blessin' and my pride ! 
There's nothin' left to cai-e for now. 

Since my poor Mary died. 



HELEN SELINA, COUNTESS OF GIFFOBD. 235 

Yours was the good, brave heart, Mary, 

That still kept hoping on. 
When the trust in God had left my soul, 

And my arm's young strength was gone ; 
There was comfort even on your lip, 

And the kind look on your brow — 
I bless you, Mary, for that same, 

Thougli you cannot hear me now. 

I thank you for the patient smile 

When your heart was fit to break. 
When the hunger pain was gnawin' there 

And you hid it for my sake ; 
I bless you for the pleasant word. 

When your heart was sad and sore — 
Oh ! I'm thankful you are gone, Mary, 

Where grief can't reach you more ! 

I'm biddin' you a long fai'eweU, 

My Mary — kind and true ! 
But I'll not forget you, darling, 

In the land I'm goin' to : 
They say there's bread and work for all, 

And the sun shines always there — 
But I'll not forget old Ireland, 

Were it fifty times as fair ! 

And often in those grand old woods 

I'll sit and shut my eyes. 
And my heart will travel ba,ck again 

To the place where Mary lies ; 
And I'll think I see the little stile 

Where we sat side by side, 
And the springin' corn, and the bright May morn, 

When first you were my bride. 

The Countess of Gifford was thoroughly Irish 
in her style of ballad writing. She has happily 
blended the humorous with the pathetic, and not 



236 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

one of her ballads more happily combines these 
attributes than does the following : — 

TERENCE'S FAREWELL. 

So, my Kathleen, you're goiu' to lave me, all alone by meselt' in 

this place, 
But I'm Kure that you'll never desave me, oh no ! if there's truth 

in that face ! 
Tho' England's a beautiful counthry, full of illigant boys, oh ! 

what thenP 
You wouldn't forget your poor Terence, you'll come back to poor 

Ireland agen ? 

Och ! them English, desavers by nature ! tho' maybe you'd think 

them sincere. 
They'll say you're a sweet, charmin' creature, but don't you believe 

them, me dear ! 
No ! Kathleen agra ! don't be mindin' the flattherin' speeches they 

make, 
Just tell them a poor boy in Ireland, is brakin' his heart for yer 

sake. 

It's a folly to keep you from goin' — tho' faith it's a mighty hard 

case, 
For Kathleen, you know, there's no knowin' when next I may see 

your sweet face ! — 
And when yo come back to me, Kathleen, none tho botthor will 1 be 

off then. 
You'll bo spakin' sich beautiful English ! sure I wont know me 

Kathleen agen. 

Eh ! now ! where's the need of this hurry ! don't flusther me so in 

this way ! 
I've forgot 'tween the grief and the flurry, every word I was manin' 

to say : 
Now, just wait a minute, I bid ye, can I talk if yeh bother me bo ! 
Och ! Kathleen, my blessin' go wid yeh, every inch of the way that 

ye go ! 



HELEN 8ELINA, COUNTESS OF GIFFOBD. 237 

But there is certainly more pathos, as there is a 
more decidedly Hibernian ring, in — 

THE BAY OF DUBLIN. 

Oh ! Bay of Dublin ! my heart you're troublin', 

Your beauty haunts me like a fever dream. 
Like frozen fountains that the sun seta bubblin', 

My heart's blood warms when I but hear your name, 
And never till this life-pulse ceases. 

My earliest, latest thought you'll cease to be, 
There's no one here knows how fair that place is, 

And no one cares how dear it is to me. 

Sweet Wicklow mountains ! the sunlight sleepin' 

On j'our sweet banks is a picture rare ; 
You crowd around me, like young girls peepin', 

And puzzlin' me to say which is most fair, 
As tho' you'd see your own sweet faces 

lleilected in that smooth and silver sea ; 
Oh ! my blessin' on those lovely places — 

Tho' no one cares how dear they are to me ! 

How often when at work I'm sittin'. 

And musing sadly on the da3's of yore, 
1 think 1 sec my Katie knittin', 

And the childher playin' round the cabin door. 
I think I see the neighbours' faces, 

All gathered round, their long-lost friend to see ; 
Oh ! tho' no one here knows how fair that jjlaco is, 

Ileav'n kiiows how dear my poor home was to mo ! 

The two latter ballads are not as well known as 
they deserve to be. " Katie's Letter," another of 
the Countess of Gilford's songs, divides the palm 
for popularity with " The Irish Emigrant." Mrs. 
Thomas Sheridan, her mother, wrote a novel upon 
a Scottish subject, called " Carwell ;" and in 
it we find a ballad wTitten by the Countess of 



238 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Gifford. It is in Scottish dialect, and is an excel- 
lent imitation of one of the old Border ballads. 

It is by her sonors and few poetical pieces that 
this one of the beautiful Sheridan sisters is chiefly 
known, although she has not unsuccessfully turned 
her attention to other departments of literature. 
Her *' Lispings from Low Latitudes, being an 
Account of the Travels of the Hon, Selina Gush- 
ington," is full of inimitable humour. She was 
also a frequent contributor to the various "Annuals" 
which were popular in her earlier literary days. 

Save the few ballads we have mentioned, the 
Countess of Gilford's literary productions have all 
been of an ephemeral character ; but these ballads, 
and especially " The Irish Emigrant," will ever 
hold a high position amongst the songs of our 
land. 

During the latter years of her life, the Countess 
of Gifford suffered much, bearing her great physical 
pain with her customary sweetness and patience. 
She died June 13th, 18C7, universally beloved and 
regretted. 




LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 

(HONOURABLE Mrs. NORTON.) 
Born 1808. Dieb 1877. 




[IE brilliancy and attractiveness of the 
Sheridans has already been commented 
ii[)on ; but of the whole literary portion of 
the nice — comnjenciiig with and excepting tlie 
witty llichard Brinsley — not one has been so dis- 
tinguished as Caroline Elizabeth Sarah, the second 
daughter of Thomas Sheridan, and the grand- 
daughter of the great dramatist. 

She was brought uj), like her sisters, Lady 
Dufferin and the Duchess of Somerset,* in com- 
parative retirement at Hampton Court. Their 
mother, who was the daughter of Colonel and 
Lady Elizabeth Callander, f was a wise and good 
woman, and carefuUy educated her three beautiful 
daughters. The eldest made a happy marriage ; 
the youngest, one equally happy and brilliant; 



* At tlie Egliiiton Tournament the Duchess of Somerset was 
universally elected Queen of Beauty. 

f " The last week's obituary records the death of Mrs. Thomas 
Sheridan, the mother of a family remarkable for beauty and talent. 



240 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

and the second sister, and the subject of this 
memoir, became the wife of a man who ill-treated 
her and held her fair fame up to public scorn. 

When Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Sheridan was 
about sixteen, she attracted the attention of the 
Hon. George Chappie Norton, brother of Lord 
Grantley. He proposed to her mother for her, 
who refused the offer on the plea of her daughter's 

and not less in lier own person distinguiahed by both. Sho died at 
the house of Lady Dufferin, 89, Grosvenor Place, and was the 
daughter of Colonel Callandar, of Craigforth and Ardkinlas, and 
Lady Elizabeth Callandar. Mrs. Sheridan was the author of 
' Carwell,' a very striking story, illustrating the inequalities of 
punishment in the laws against forgery. We remember not only 
the graceful style of many scenes in that book, but the truth and 
passion which affected us in others. Tn a later novel (' Aims and 
Ends') the same feminine and truthful s})irit showed itself in 
lighter scenes of soinal life, observing keenly and satirising kindly. 
Mrs. Sheridan wrote always with ease, unalfectedness, and good- 
breeding, her books everywhere giving evidence of the place she 
might have taken in society if she had not rather desired to refrain 
from mingling with it, and keej) herself comparatively unknown. 
After her husband's early death she had devoted herself in retire- 
ment to the education of her orphan children ; when she reappeared 
in society it seemed to be solely for the sake of her daughters, on 
whose marriages she again withdrew from it ; and to none of lier 
writings did she ever attach her name. Into the private sphere 
where her virtues freely displayed themselves, and her ])atient yet 
energetic life was spent, it is not permitted us to enter; but we 
coiild not pass without this brief record Avhat we know to have 
been a life as much marked by earnestness, energy, and self-sacri- 
fice, as by those qualities of wit and genius which are for ever 
associated with the name of Sheridan. Three daughters survive 
her, and one son — Lady Dufferin, the Hon. Mrs. Norton, Lady 
Seymour, and Mr. Brinsley Sheridan, the Member for Shaftesbury." 
—The Oritic, July 1st, 1851. 



LADY STIBLING-MAXWELL. 241 

youth. Three years later he agahi proposed, and 
in her nineteenth year Miss Caroline Sheridan 
became the Hon. Mrs. Norton, the name by which 
she is best known in literature. In the mean- 
time, liowever, she had become acquainted with and 
deeply attached to a gentleman, whose early death 
alone hindered their union. 

Her marriage was not a happy one ; and she 
and her husband were permanently separated in 
1840. The world is quite aware of the slanders 
to which this unhappy woman was exposed, and 
also knows that she was triumphantly acquitted 
of the base charges ])referred against her. Her 
unsullied reputation was established ; and her 
memory deserves to be held in veneration and 
admiration for the courageous manner in which 
she overcame the malignity of unmerited persecu- 
tion, pursued and jiersevered in for interested and 
sordid motives. 

Never was there a woman whose actions were 
more wantonly and cruelly misrepresented than 
those of Lady Stirling-Maxwell when Mrs. Norton. 
She was married to a man whose barbarity and 
vindictiveness of disposition bordered on insanity ; 
who used physical violence to her ; whom she 
suppoited by her literary labours ; and who squan- 
dered her earnings upon his own pleasures. He 
took her children from her and gave them into the 

VOL. II. R 



242 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

custody of a woman with whom lie wtis intimate. 
Finally he dragged her great name through the 
mire, and, in a public common police-court, charged 
her with the grossest crimes. 

" Mr. Norton," says a recent writer in the 
Athenceum, " was a younger son, with a small 
fortune, a barrister without capacity or business, 
and a sensualist who was not particular how his 
enjoyments were paid for. He coaxed his wife 
into asking the Home Secretary to make him a 
police magistrate ; and he bullied her into earning 
more than his salary by her pen. Writing against 
time in periodicals of all kinds, from week to week, 
and month to month, without leisure for study or 
revision, it could not be expected that her com- 
positions should display the highest degree of 
excellence. But from 1830 to 1836 her name was 
up, and half the publishers of London were com- 
peting for fragments, sketches, tales, verses, or 
anything else she chose to give them. In one 
year she reminded her ungrateful husband that 
she had made 1400/. in this way ; and as she was 
then in the zenith of female loveliness, she was 
universally sought after in society, and became the 
centre of a circle to which every one of wit or 
celebrity longed to be admitted. The once gay 
and still fascinating Melbourne came with the 
rest, and, having been her father's contemporary 
and friend, soon grew familiar. Mr. Norton tried 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 243 

hard to turn liis acquaintance to account, alter- 
nately begging for a more lucrative office or a loan 
of money. The Minister was disgusted, and, with 
Leycester Stanliope and Edward Ellice, tried to 
make him treat his wife more worthily." 

The world knows what was the result of all 
this, Mr. Norton finally sought 10,000^. damages 
from Lord Melbourne, as compensation for alleged 
familiarity with his wife. The trial was the great 
event of 1836, and the jury, after conferring 
together for a few seconds, acquitted both Mrs. 
Noi"t()n and Lord IMelbourno of the charges a.o:ainst 
them. Previous to tlie trial, her husband had so 
worked upon her feelings with apparently remorse- 
ful letters, that she had returned to him. In her 
eloquent tract entitled " English Laws for Women 
in the Nineteenth Century," she shows that this 
was ]iart of a deeply-laid plot : — " After the 
trial was over, I consulted whether a divorce, * by 
reason of cruelty,' might not be pleaded for me ; 
and I laid before my lawyers the many instances 
of violence, injustice, and ill-usage, of which the 
trial was but the crowning example. I was then 
told that no divorce / could obtain would break 
my marriage ; that I could not plead cruelty 
which I had forgiven; that by returning to Mr. 
Norton I had condoned all I complained of" 

Her lot was certainly a hard one ; and we shall 
R 2 



244 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

pass over these unliappy episodes as quickly as 
possible. Her husband continued to annoy her : 
reduced her annual allowance, and again publicly 
assailed her character. One more extract from 
her own eloquent appeal to the English public, 
will best tell her tale : — 

" My husband being desirous to raise money 
settled on me and my sons, to employ on his 
separate estate, and requiring my consent in 
writing before that could be done, gave me in 
exchange for such consent a wiitten contract 
drawn up by a lawyer, and signed by that lawyer 
and himself. When he had obtained and em- 
ployed the money he was desirous to raise, like 
Mr. Patton, of Virginia, he resolved to ^rescind 
the contracC'^ When I, like the slave Non-is, en- 



* Tlie Cincinnati Gazette for November, 1853, mentions a case . 
tried in the Covington Circnit Court, tind " by the report it appoars 
that a slave named Sam Norris, belonging to a Mr. J. N. I'attou, 
of Virginia, had been permitted to work in Covington, on condition 
of paying each year a certain snm to his master, which sum was 
accordingly paid ; that two years ago Mr. Patton proposed that the 
slave should purchase his freedom by the payment of a certain 
additional sum, which sum was nearly paid up, when Mr. Patton 
changed his mind, rescinded the contract, and claimed Sam Norris 
as his slave. The case was argued with much ability, but at the 
close of the argument the judge decided for Mr. Patton against 
Sam Norris, on this principle, that, by the law of Kentucky, ' a 
slave cannot mahe a contract, nor can he have moneys of Ms oivn.' 
The contract, therefore, was null and void ; and the money, thougli 
received and expended by the master, could not be held legally to 
have been paid." It is to this case that reference is made. 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 245 

deavoured to struggle against this gross breach of 
faith, I was informed that by the law of England, 
* a married woman could not make a contract or have 
moneys of her own' When I complained of it, 
I was punished by a flood of libellous accusations, 
published in all the English newspapers ; libels 
for which, though proved falsehoods, I could obtain 
no redress, because they were published by my 
husband. The circumstance that Mr. Norton, 
like Mr. Patton, had obtained all the advantage 
he sought when he went through the formality 
and pretence of making a contract with me, made 
no dillerence ; and as to money, even that which 
I earned by literature was subject to the claim of 
my husband, as tlie manual labour of the slave 
was subject to tlie claim of his master — because a 
married woman is, by the code of England (as 
Sam Norris by the code of Kentucky), non-existent 
in law. It is fit that I should add, in behalf of 
English hearts and English love of justice, that 
when I stood, with that vain contract in my hand, 
in the Westmuister County Court {I, an intelli- 
gent, educated woman, granddaughter of a man 
sufiiciently distinguished to have obtained sepul- 
ture in Westminster Abbey, hard by), and when 
the law was shown to be for me, what it is for the 
slave in Kentucky, there was, in the court-room 
of the Wcstramster County Court, as thei-e was 



246 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

in the court-room of the Covington Circuit Court, 
evidence of strong sympathy. My case, which 
opened up a history of wrong, treachery, hbel and 
injustice, endured for years without redress, was 
evidently considered hke that of N orris, to be 
'.one of great liardship and cruelty;' and the con- 
cluding words with which Mr. Norton vehemently 
attempted to address the Court were drowned in 
the groans and hooting of an excited crowd. But 
sympathy could do no more for me tlian for Mr. 
Patton's slave. It could not force open for me 
the iron gates of the Law which barred out 
justice. It could not prevent libel and torment 
and fraud ; the ripping up of old wounds, or the 
infliction of new." 

At intervals Lady Stirling-Maxwell renewed 
the controversy ; pnthos and sarcasm being skil- 
fully combined by her brilliant pen. At length it 
ceased, and it is gratifying to know that this 
beautiful and bitterly-wronged woman, in her 
latter years, met with the aflbctionato appreciation 
which had been denied to her in the bloom of her 
youth and beauty. 

Lady Stirling-Maxwell early commenced her 
career as a writer, when — as has been stated in 
the previous notice of Lady Dufferin — she was 
one of the authors of " The Dandie's E-out," being 
then but thirteen years of age. Then followed, 



LABY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 247 

when slie was about seventeen, " The Sorrows of 
HosaUe," written with a depth of power and a 
warmth of colouring that drew extravagant praise 
from James Hogg. Lady Stirling-Maxwell, even 
in her more matured literary career, never produced 
anything fuller of the blended fire and pathos with 
which all her poetry is characterised, than this 
her first important poem. " The Undying One" 
followed shortly after, in 1830, and was well 
received. It was a version of " The Wandering 
Jew," and the poetess treated the subject in an 
entirely new and original manner. " If one or 
two poems," says the reviewer of the New Monthly 
Magazine, " of equal grace and originality with 
this were produced, we thmk that it would go far 
to recover the public from the apathy into which it 
has fallen with regard to poetry. In the concep- 
tion of the plot, and in general treatment, the 
metrical romance before us is an honour to the 
modern literature of the country, and is the more 
interesting as being the work of a woman." 

In all her writings, whether m prose or in verse, 
Lady Stirling-Maxwell eloquently pleaded for the 
poor and for the oppressed. Perhaps a fellow- 
feehng with the latter class urged her to do so 
Whatever was weak and helpless and in the right, 
claimed her ready sympathy. In her " Voice from 
the Factories," published in 183G, and her letters 



248 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

to the Times, in 1841, and in the stirring eloquence 
of immortal verse at various times and seasons, 
she had pleaded on behalf of the poor and the 
desolate, the criminal and the outcast, the mise- 
rable and the forsaken. 

" The Child of the Islands" is an impassioned, 
eloquent poem upon the condition of the poor in 
England. The subject was not an easy one to 
treat in the manner proposed, and carried out 
by Lady Stirling-Maxwell. All previous writers 
had presented an ideal picture, and had lecom- 
mended ideal modes of redress ; but in this grand 
poem we have a picture of the social condition of 
the English poor told with pathos, fervour, and 
/rw/A, hitherto unattempted. "The Child of the 
Islands" is the then baby Prince of Wales, to 
whom the poem is dedicated ; and was written 
with the ambition of eventually impressing the 
future " Ruler of the Islands" with a due sense of 
the wants, trials, and temptations of his humbler 
fellow-creatures. 

In the Quarterly for June, 1845, appeared a 
masterly review of this poem from the pen of 
J. G. Lockhart. He thinks Lady Stirling-Max- 
well exaggerated the condition of the poor, and 
considers its poetical power, and not its object, is 
its chief claim to consideration. This poem is 
divided irito lour scctiOiid, called respectively 



LADY STIBLING-MAXWELL. 249 

"Spring," "Summer," "Autumn," "AViiiter," and 
closes with the couplet : — 

Brothers ! be gentle to this ane appeal, 

Want is the only woo God gives you power to heal ! 

One extract from this exquisite poem we cannot 
forbear giving. It is from " Summer" — 

Wild Nomades of our civilised calm land I 

Whose Eastern origin is still betrayed 
By the swart beauty of the slender hand, — 

Eyes Hashing forth from over-arching shade, — 

And supple limbs, for active movement made ; 
IIow oft, beguiled by you, the maiden'looks 

Eor love her fiincy ne'er before portrayed, 
And, slighting village swaius and shepherd-crooks. 
Dreams of proud youths, dark spells, and wondrous magic books ! 

Lo ! in the confines of a dungeon cell, 
(Sore weary of its silence and its gloom!) 

One of this race : who yet deserveth well 
The close iniprisoninciit which is her doom : 
Lawless she was, ere infancy's first bloom 

Left the round outline of her sunny cheek ; 

Vagrant, and prowling Thief; — no chance, no room 

To bring that wild heart to obedience meek ; 
Therefore th' avenging law its punishment must wreak. 

She lies, crouched up upon her pallet bed. 

Her slight limbs starting in unquiet sleep ; 
And oft she turns her feverish, restless head, 

Mourns, frets, and murmurs, or begins to weep : 

Anon, a calmer hour of slumber deep 
Sinks on her lids, some happier thought hath come ; 

Some jubilee unknown she thinks to keep, 
With liberated steps, that waiulor hoino 
Ouce more with gipsy tribes a gipsy lifo to roam. 



250 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

But no, her pale lips quiver as they moan : 

What whisper they ? A name, and nothing more ; 
But with such passionate tenderness of tone. 

As shows how much those lips that name adore. 

She dreams of one who shall her loss deplore 
With the unbridled anguish of despair ! 

Whose forest-wanderings by her side are o'er, 
But to whose heart one braid of her lilack hair 
Were worth the world's best throne, and all its treasures rare. 

The shadow of his eyes is on her soul — 

His passionate eyes, that held her in such love ! 
Which love she answered, scorning all control 

Of reasoning thoughts, which tranquil bosoms move. 

No lengthened courtship it was his to prove, 
(Gleaning capricious smiles by fits and starts) 

Nor feared her simple faith lest he should rove : 
Rapid and subtle as the ilame that darts 
To meet its fellow flame, shot passion through their hearts. 

And tliOTigh no holy pnest that union blessed. 
By gipsy laws and customs made his bride ; 

The love her looks avowed, in words confessed, 
She shared his tent, she wandered by his side, 
His glance her morning star, his will her guide. 

Animal beauty and intelligence 

Were her sole gifts, — his heart they satisfied, — 

Himself could claim no higher, better sense, 
So loved her with a love, wild, passionate, intense ! 

And oft, where flowers lay spangled round aboxit, 
And to the dying twilight incense shed. 

They sat to watch heaven's glittering stars come out. 
Her cheek down-leaning on his cherished head — 
That head upon her heart's soft jiillow laid 

In fulness of content ; and such deep spell 
Of loving silence, that the word first said 

With startling sweetness on their senses fell, 
Like silver coins dropped down a many-fathomed well 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 251 



Look ! her brows darken with a sudden frown — 

She dreams of Rescue by his angry aid — 
She dreams he strikes the Law's vile minions down, 

And bears her swiftly to the wild-wood shade ! 

There, where their bower of bliss at first was made, 
Safe in his sheltering arms once more she sleeps : 

Ah, happy dream ! She wakes ; amazed, afraid. 
Like a young panther from her couch she leaps, 
Gazes bewildered round, then madly shrieks and weeps ! 

For, far above her head, the prison-bars 

Mock her with narrow sections of that sky 
She knew so wide, and blue, and full of stars. 

When gazing upward through the branches high. 

Of the free forest ! Is she, then, to die ? 
Wliorc is he — where — the strong-armed and the bravo, 

Who iu that vision answered her wild cry P 
Where is he — where — the lover who could save 
And snatch lier from her fate— an ignominious grave ? 

Oh, pity her, all sinful though she be. 

While thus the transient dreams of freedom rise, 

Contrasted with her waking destiny ! 
Scorn is for devils ; soft compassion lies 
In angel-hearts, and beams from angel-eyes. 

Pity her ! Never more, with wild embrace. 
Those flexile arms shall clasp him ere she dies ; 

Never the fierce sad beauty of her face 
Be ht with gentler hope, or love's triumphant grace ! 

Lonely she perishes ; like some wild bird 

That strains its wing against opposing wires ; 
Her heart's tumultuous panting may be heard, 

While to the thought of rescue she aspires ; 

Then, of its own deep strength, it faints and tires : 
The frenzy of her mood begins to cease ; 

Her varying pulse with fluttering stroke expires. 
And the sick weariness that is not peace 
Creeps slowly through her blood, and promises release. 



252 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Alas, dark Bhadows, press not on her so ! 

Stand off, and let her hear the linnet sing ! 
Crumble, ye walla, that sunshine may come through 

Each crevice of" your ruins ! Rise, clear spring. 

Bubbling from hidden fountain-depths, and bring 
Water, the death-thirst of her pain to slake ! 

Come from the forest, breeze with wandering wing ! 
There dwelt a heart would perish for her sake, — 
Oh, save her ! No ! Death stands prepared his prey to take. 

But, because youth and health are very strong, 
And all her veins were full of freshest life, 

The deadly struggle must continue long 

Kre the freed heart lie still, that was so rife 
With passion's mad excess. The gaoler's wife 

Bends, with revolted pity on her brow. 

To watch the working of that fearful strife. 

Till the last quivering spark is out. And now 
All's dark, all's cold, all's lost, that loved and mourned below. 

"The Dream," published in 1840, is one of the 
longer of Lady Stiiling-Maxwell's poems, and cer- 
tainly one of the most beautiful. It is the one, 
we think, of all this poetess's productions in which 
personal feeling is most betrayed. It bears the 
impress of the fiery ordeal which she luid under- 
gone for some years previously. " The Dream" 
is dedicated to the Duchess of Sutherland, the 
staunch friend of the writer. The following 
dedicatory verses, simple in their cruel truth, 
sensuous in their vivid colouring, and impas- 
sioned in their fervour and grateful tenderness, 
have never been surpassed in their own pecuhar 
style :— 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 263 

Onco more, my harp, once more, altliough I thought 

Never to wake thy silent strings again, 
A wandering dream thy gentle chords have wrought, 

And my sad heart, which long hath dwelt in paiu, 
Roars like a wild bird from a cypress bough, 
Into the poet's Heaven, and leaves dull grief below ! 

And iinto Thee — the beautiful and pure — 

Whose lot is cast amid that busy world 
Where only sluggish dulness dwells secure, 

And Fancy's generous wing is faintly furled ; 
To Thee — whoso friendship kcjit its equal truth 
Through the most dreary hour of my embittered youth — 

I dedicate the lay. Ah ! never bard. 

In days when poverty was twiti with song ; 

Nor wandering harper, lonely and ill-starred, 

Checi-ed by some castle's chief, and harboured long ; 

Not Scott's Last Minstrel, in his trembling lays, 

Woke with a warmer heart the earnest meed of praise. 

For easy are the alms the rich man spares 

To sons of Genius, by misfortune bent, 
But thou gavcst me, what woman seldom dares. 

Belief — in spite of many a cold dissent — 
When, slandered and maligned, I stood apart 
From those whose bounded power had wrung, not crushed, 

my heart. 

Thou, then, when cowards lied away my name, 
And scoffed to see mo feebly stem the tide ; 

When some wore kind on whom I had no claim, 
And some forsook on whom my love relied. 

And some, who m.irjhf, have battled for my sake, 

Stood off in doubt to see what turn the world would take. 

Thou gav'st me that the poor do give the poor, 
Kind words and holy wishes, and true tears — 

The loved, the near of kin, could do no more, 

Who changed not with the gloom of varying years, 

But clung the closer when I stood forlorn. 

And blunted slander's dart with their indignant scorn. 



254 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISHWOMEN'. 

For tbey who credit crime are they who feel 

Their own hearts weak to unresisted sin ; 
Memory, not judgment, prompts the thoiights which steal 

O'er minds like these, an easy faith to win ; 
And tales of broken truth are still believed 
Most readily by those who have themselves deceived. 

But like a white swan down a troubled stream, 
Whose ruffling pinion hath the power to fling 

Aside the turbid drops which darkly gleam. 
And mar the freshness of her snowy wing, — 

So Thou, with queenly grace and gentle pride 

Along the world's dark waves in purity dost glide ; 

Thy pale and pearly cheek was never made 
To crimson with a faint false-hearted shame ; 

Thou didst not shrink — of bitter tongues afraid, 
Who hunt in packs the oljject of their blame ; 

To thee the sad denial still held true, 

For from thine own good thoughts thy heart its mercy drew. 

And though my faint and tributary rhymes 

Add nothing to the glory of thy day. 
Yet every poet hopes that aftertimcs 

Shall set some value on his votive lay ; 
And I would fain one gentle deed record 
Among the many such with which thy life is stored. 

So when these lines, made in a mournful hour, 

Are idly opened to the stranger's eye, 
A dream of Thee, aroused my fancy's power, 

Shall be the first to wander floating by ; 
And they who never saw thy lovely face 
Shall pause, to conjure up a vision of its grace ! 

The framework of " The Dream" is simply that 
of a lovely mother watching over a lovely daiigliter 
asleep : " which daughter," says Lockhart, "dreams, 
and when awaked tells her dream ; which dream 
depicts the bliss of a first love and an early union. 



LADY STIBLING-MAXWELL. 255 

and is followed by the mother's admonitory com- 
luent, importing the many accidents to which 
wedded happiness is liable, and exhorting to mo- 
deration of hope, and preparation for severer 
duties." It is in the latter portion of the poem 
that the passion and interest assume a personal 
hue ; some passages occur which sound like javelins 
hiu'led by an Amazon. For example : — ' 

Heaven give thee poverty, disease, or death, 

Each varied ill that waits on human breath, 

Rather than bid thee linger out thy Ufe 

In the long toil of such unnatural strife. 

To wander through the world unreconciled, 

Heart-weary as a spirit-broken child, 

And think it were an hour of bhss like Heaven 

If thou couldst die — forgiving and forgiven, — 

Or with a feverish hope, of anguish born, 

(Nerving thy mind to feel indignant scorn 

Of all the cruel foes that twixt ye stand. 

Holding thy heartstrings with a reckless hand,) 

Steal to his presence, now unseen so long, 

And claim his mercy who hath dealt the wrong ! 

Into the aching depths of thy poor heart 

Dive, as it were, even to the roots of pain, 

And wrench up thoughts that tear thy soul apart, 

And burn like fire through thy bewildered brain. 

Clothe them in passionate words of wild appeal 

To teach thy fcjUow-creature hoio to feel, — 

Pray, weeji, exhaust thyself in maddening tears, — 

Recall the hopes, the inlluenccs of years, — 

Kneel, dash thyself upon the senseless ground, 

Writhe as the worm writhes with dividing wound,— 

Invoke the Heaven that knows thy sorrows' truth, 

By all the softening memories of youth — 

By every hope that clieorod thine earlier day — 

By every tear that washes wrath away — 



256 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

By every old remembrance long gone by— 
By every pang that makes thee yearn to die ; 
And learn at length how deep and stern a blow 
Man's hands can strike, and yet no pity show. 

Lady Stirling-Maxwell has been called the 
Byron of her sex. Lockhart says : " She has 
much of that intense personal passion by which 
Byron's poetry is distinguished from the larger 
grasp and deeper communion with man and 
Nature of Wordsworth. She has also Byron's 
beautiful intervals of tenderness, his strong prac- 
tical thought, and his forceful expression."* At 
the same time, although she resembles Byron in 
her intensity and in her mournfulness, it would be 
erroneous to confound her sorrowful craving for 
sympathy, womanly endiu^ance, resignation, and 
religious trust, with the refined misanthropy of 
Childe Harold. " She feels intensely, and utters 
her thoughts with an impassioned energy ; but 
they are not the vapourings of a sickly fancy, nor 
the morbid workings of undue self-love ; they are 
the strong and healthful action of a noble nature 
abounding in the wealth of its affections, outraged 
and trampled upon, and turning from its idols to 
God when the altar at which it worshipped has 
been taken away."* 

*' The Lady of La Garaye" is the most polished 



Quarterly Review, July, 1840. f R. W. Griswold. 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 257 

and classic of all Lady Stirling-Maxwell's longer 
poems. It is one of the later efforts of her genius, 
and is a good example of the finish and pohsh 
which have characterised the works of her more 
matiu'e years. The poem is founded upon a true 
story, concerning which the poetess says in her 
preface : — " I have added nothing to the beautiful 
and striking simplicity of the event it details. I 
have respected that mournful 'romance of real 
life' too much to spoil its lessons by any poetical 
licence. Nothing is mine in this story but the 
language m which it is told." 

And very choice tliat language is. The tale 
is as a beautiful gem, skilfully and exquisitely set 
by a true and appreciative artist. 

But we must not forget her shorter poetical 
pieces. Like the majority of the shorter poems of 
her gifted contemporary, Mrs. Hemans, the fugi- 
tive pieces of Lady Stirling-Maxwell have gained 
world-wide popularity. " The Arab's Farewell to 
his Horse," the well-known song " We have been 
Friends together," and many others too numerous 
to mention, divide the palm for popularity with 
*' The Graves of a Llousehold," and other proved 
favourites by Mrs. Hemans. Unlike her sister, 
Lady Dufferin, there is seldom a humorous strain 
in Lady Stirling-Maxwell's poetry. Irony and 
sarcasm are there in perfection ; but humour, in 

VOL. II. S 



258 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

the common acceptation of the word — the broad 
humour of the Celtic race from which she sprung 
— is totally absent, save in one or two of her 
earlier and least meritorious poems. One couplet 
from " The Ilecollections of a Faded Beauty" is a 
good specimen — and one of the best — of the whole. 
Speaking of one of her discarded lovers, she 
says — 

Squint it was not ! — but one eye sought the other 
With tenderness, as 'twere a yonng twin brother. 

All her poems have a spirit of yearning melan- 
choly. 

How my heart yearns for joys for ever flown — 
My mother's hand, my sister's gentle tone ! 
And wishes wild within my bosom swell, 
In sorrow's broken tones to bid farewell ! 

The date of the volume whence the foregoing is 
taken is 1833, just the time when the unhappy 
wife was beginning to realise how much happier 
her maiden days had been. " The Mother's Heart" 
could only have been written by a loving 

mother : — 

* * * * * 

And thine was many an art to win and bless, 

The cold and stern to joy and fondness warming ; 
The coaxing smile — the frequent soft caress — 

The earnest tearful prayer all wrath disarming ! 
Again my heart a new affection found, 
But thought that love with tJiee had reached its bound ! 
At length tuou earnest ; thou, the last and least ; 

Nicknamed " The Emperor" by thy laughing brothers, 
Because a haiaghty spirit swelled thy breast. 

And thou didst seek to rule and sway the others ; 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 259 



^Mingling with every playful infant wile 
A mimic majesty that made ua smile : 

And oh ! most like a regal child wert then ! 

An eye of resolute and successful scheming ! 
Fair shoulders — -curling lip — and dauntless brow — 

Fit for the world's strife, not for poet's dreaming : 
And proud the lifting of thy stately head, 
And the firm hearing of thy conscious tread. 

Different from both ! Yet each succeeding claim, 
I, that all other love had been forswearing, 

Forthwith admitted, equal and the same ; 
Nor injured either, by this love's comparing; 

Nor stole a fraction for the newer call — 

But in the mother's heart, found room for all! 

Amongst the most pathetic of Lady StMing- 
Maxwell's poeais may be particularised " The 
Blind Man to his Bride," "The Widow to her 
Son's Betrothed," and " The Child of Earth." The 
latter is one of the most touching of those men- 
tioned, and is a good example of Lady Stirling- 
Maxwell's tenderly passionate style of writing : — 

Fainter her slow step falls from day to day. 

Death's hand is heavy on her darkening brow ; 
Yet doth she fondly cling to earth and say : 

" I am content to die, but oh ! not now ! 
Not while the blossoms of the joyous spring 

Make the warm air such luxury to breathe ; 
Not while the birds such lays of gladness sing ; 

Not while bright flowers a.round my footsteps wreathe. 
Sparc mo, great God, lift up my drooping brow! 
I am content to die — but. oh ! not now !" 

S2 



260 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

The spring liatli ripened into summer-time, 

The season's viewless boundary is past; 
The glorious sun hath reached his burning prime — 

Oh ! must this glimpse of beauty be the last ? 
" Let me not perish while o'er land and lea, 

With silent steps the lord of light moves on ; 
Nor while the murmur of the mountain bee 

Greets my dull ear with music in its tone ! 
Pale sickness dims my eye, and clouds my brow ; 
I am content to die — but, oh ! not now !" 

Summer is gone, and autumn's soberer hues 

Tint the ripe fruits, and gild the waving corn ; 
The huntsman swift the flying game pursues, 

Shouts the halloo, and winds his eager horn. 
" Spare me awhile to wander forth and gaze 

On the broad meadows and the quiet stream, 
To watch in silence while the evening rays 

Slant through the fading trees with mddy gleam ! 
Cooler the breezes play around my brow ; 
I am content to die — but, oh ! not now !" 

The bleak wind whistles, snow showers, far and near. 

Drift without echo to the whitening ground ; 
Autumn hath passed away, and cold and drear 

Winter stalks on, with frozen mantle bound. 
Yet still that prayer ascends : — " Oh ! laughingly 

My little brothers round the warm hearth ci'owd. 
Our home-lire blazes broad, and bright, and high. 

And the roof rings with voices glad and loud ; 
Spare me awhile, lift u]) my drooping brow ! 
I am content to die — but, oh ! not now !" 

The spring is come again — the joyful spring ! 

Again tlie banks with clustering ilowers ai-e spread; 
The wild bird dips upon its wanton wing — 

The child of earth is numbered with the dead ! 
" Thee never more the sunshine shall awake. 

Beaming all readily through the lattice-pane ; 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 261 

The steps of friends thy slumbers may not break, 

Nor fond familiar voice arouse again ! 
Death's silent shadow veils thy darkened brow ; 
Why didst thou linger P — thou art happier now !" 

Truly, as of Mrs. Hemans, it may be said of 
Lady Stirling-Maxwell, that "she learned in 
sorrow what she taught in song." In R. D. Home's 
New Spirit of ike Age, he thus compares her with 
Mrs. Browning : — 

" The prominent characteristics of these two 
])oetosses may bo designated as the struggles of 
woman towards hap])iness, and the struggles of a 
soul towards heaven. The one is oppressed with 
a sense of injustice, and feels the need of human 
love ; the other is troubled with a sense of mor- 
tality, and iispires to identify herself with ethereal 
existences. The one has a certain tinge of morbid 
despondency, taking the tone of complaint and the 
amplification of ]_)rivate griefs ; the other too often 
displays an energetic morbidity on the subject of 
death, together with a certam j^i'^^il^ction for 
' terrors.' The imagination of Mrs. Norton is 
chiefly occupied with domestic feelings and 
images, and breathes melodious plaints or indigna- 
tions over the desecrations of her sex's loveliness ; 
that of Miss Barrett often wanders amidst the 
supernatural darkness of Cnlvavy, sometimes with 
angmsh and tears of blood, sometimes like one 



262 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISHWOMEN. 

who echoes the songs of triumphal quires. Both 
possess not only great mental energies, but that 
description of strength which springs from a fine 
nature, and manifests itself in productions which 
evidently originated in genuine impulses of feeling. 
The subjects they both clioose appear spontaneous, 
and not resulting from study or inutation, though 
cast into careful moulds of art. The one records 
and laments the actual ; the other creates and 
exults in the ideal. Both are excellent artists : 
the one dealing with subjects of domestic interest, 
the other in designs from sacred subjects, poems of 
religious tendency, or of the supernatural world. 
Mrs. Norton is beautifully clear and intelligible in 
her narrative and course of thought and feelmg ; 
Miss Barrett has great inventiveness, but not an 
equal power in construction. The one is all 
womanliood, the other all wings. " * 

It is upon her poetry tliat Lady Stirling- 
Maxwell's literary fame chiefly rests, tlie general 
public being less accustomed to regard her as a 
prose writer ; yet in the latter de})aitment of 
literature she also excelled. "Like all her family," 
says one of her anonymous critics, "she had the 
gift of good English." She wrote well, and she 
wrote fearlessly, no matter what the subjects were. 
The first of Lady Stirling-Maxwell's prose works 



New Spirit of the Age, vol. ii. pp. 139, 140. 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 263 

of fiction which attracted attention was her novel 
of " Stuart of Dunleath," concerning which there 
were many conflicting opinions. She had pre- 
viously edited a work cjilled " A Residence in 
Sierra Leone : described from a Journal kept on 
the S]wt, and from Lettei-s written to Friends at 
Home." " A most animated and sprightly picture 
of the state of society at Sierra Leone," says Jofin 
Bull, " the point and cleverness of which is, we 
apprehend, to be placed to the credit of the 
talented editor fidly as much as to that of the 
origiiinl writer of the letters." 

When " Stuart of Dunleath" appeared, in 1851, 
the AtheJiceum criticised it in no very measured 
terms. It professed to be overcome by the com- 
j)licated horrors of tlie plot. 

" Can fable be imagined more dismal than this ?" 
asks the reviewer in the Athenceum. '' We may 
further ask, whether such a remorseless persecu- 
tion of the truthful, the gifted, and the loving by 
destiny, is either veritable or wholesome as the 
argument of a fiction ? To ourselves the answer 
comes readily. We do not shrink from the dis- 
cipline of pain in imaginative creation any more 
than in daily life ; but we revolt against the con- 
viction that the briglitest and best are marked out 
for such discipline exclusively, which must be 
received were we to accept ' Stuart of Dunleath' 
as a work of Art which is a copy from Nature. 



264 ILLUSTRIOUS IBI8EW0MEK 

Ours, however, is an objection more likely to 
attract than to distance readers. The young who 
' love the luxury of woe,' are here treated to a 
sorrow which is Oriental in the amount of its extra- 
vagance, and may take to the book accordingly."* 

Very different was the verdict of the Examiner. 
** Like the crystal fountain among the fountains of 
the Crystal Palace, this novel shines among the new 
novels of the year, pre-eminent and peerless. No 
prose work of equal power has yet come from the 
pen of Mrs, Norton, and we are glad to announce 
her return to a field of composition which she lias 
already so successfully cultivated, by a notice of 
the present contribution of her genius to the vast 
wilderness of novelty, instruction, and delight 
which May has opened to our metropolis, "f 

The Critic did not take the same view of the 
subject : — 

" We cannot quite share the enthusiasm of 
some of our contemporaiies so as to term this novel 
'pre-eminent and peerless.' It is a very clevei- 
novel, but it is not what the Examiner calls it. 
Mrs. Norton possesses a great deal of descriptive 
power and much pathos ; her writings are always 
pleasant to read ; she appeals strongly to our sym- 
pathies, and her composition is remarkable for a 



* The Athenoium. May 3rtl, 1851. 
f The Examiner, May 3rd, 1851. 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 265 

certain gloiv of eloquence, felt, though it cannot be 
described. She has many superiors : she is defective 
in the two most important features of the ^reat 
novelist — she cannot create characters, nor can she 
construct an ingenious plot."* 

A paragraph of " faint praise" follows ; but not- 
withstanding these criticisms, the book met with 
a deservedly popidar reception from the reading 
public. It was a good novel, written in a clear 
and forcible style, perhaps too diffuse occasionally, 
but it had many merits to make amends for so 
trifling a fault. 

Lady Stirling-Maxwell's next novel was " Lost 
and Saved," which appeared in 1863. It was 
written with a purpose. " Its purpose," says the 
Saturday Review, "is to show how very harshly 
and wrongly society treats women, and how leni- 
ently and wrongly it treats men. It is an old 
grievance, and Mrs. Norton evidently feels it 
keenly. There is no afiectation of warmth or 
depth m her indignation. She writes from the 
fulness of her heart, and is moved to genuine 
anger and pity by observing how hghtly bad men 
are censured, and how cruelly good women are 
treated. But, as in most novels with a purpose, 
the story in * Lost and Saved' is sacrificed to the 
elucidation of the writer's views, and the purpose 



* The Critic, May 15tb, 1851. 



266 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

is only very imperfectly attained through the 
medium of a story."* 

Certainly we do not care so much for this novel 
as for " Stuart of Dunleath." The latter had 
passion and pathos ; " Lost and Saved" has not 
much passion, and is quite wanting in pathos. 
Lady Stirling-Maxwell always wrote eloquently 
when injured woman was the theme, and the 
rememhrance of her own bitter wrongs gave a zest 
to her pen. But she had almost exhausted the 
subject, which accounts for much that is colourless 
in her pictures, and a great deal that is mechanical 
in the action of the story. The Times praised it, 
and the Athenceuni considered it superior to 
" Stuart of Dunleath ;" but we cannot agree with 
the latter. Lady Stirling-Maxwell could not have 
written anything that did not bear the impress of 
genius, but in " Lost and Saved" she has not done 
justice to that genius. 

It may have been that Lady Stirling-Maxwell 
recognised tliis herself, for in her next and last 
novel, published in 1867, we find a marked im- 
provement. " Old Sir Douglas" is one of the most 
original novels that this age has produced. In 
common with all her novels, it possesses a keen 
insight into character and clever pictures of 



* The Saturday Review, May 30tli, 1863. 



LADY STIBLINO-MAXWELL. 267 

society. Lady Stirling-Maxwell pursued a most 
unhackneyed course in selecting an elderly gentle- 
man for her hero, and she carried out her conception 
with much skill. "With hereditary eloquence, she 
denounces the sham propriety which strains at 
gnats and swallows camels ; and " the social 
Pharisee," says the Saturday Review, " is typified 
in the Dowager Countess of Clocknaben, a gaunt 
and grim Presbyterian lady, with two pet ' dic- 
tums' for ever in her mouth — ' Temptations are 
just simply the sauce the devil serves up fools 
with,' and * God's mercy is a great encouragement 
to obstinate offenders.' " 

Notwithstanding defects, Lady Stirhng-Max- 
well's novels met with very great and deserved 
success ; for the public knew that from the writer 
was to be expected subtle satire, delicate analysis 
of character, pathos, and passion. Taken on the 
whole, her prose works have not disappomted 
these expectations ; but there was one quahty the 
public did not expect, and that was a rare strain 
of ironical humour which characterises many of 
her scenes. 

Her novels are good, but her poetry is better ; 
and it is as a poetess that Lady StirUng-Maxwell 
will be remembered when her fame as a novelist 
will be forgotten. During her latter years she 
wrote much anonymously, "and took as much 



268 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISIIWOMEN. 

pains with a critique of pictures or the review of a 
new book as if her name had been prefixed at the 
beginning, or her well-known initials had been 
appended at the close. She had survived tlie 
zest for popularity, and sometimes seemed almost 
as if she had learned to enjoy, or at all events 
to provoke, its opposite. One fine quality she 
evinced in all her ways of thinking, acting, and 
writing — an unaffected disdain of affectation. 
Nothing could be simpler or more direct, nothing 
more tender or noble, than her ordinary conversa- 
tion ; but the iron had entered her soul, and 
every now and then there was a spice of mockery 
or scorn bitter as wormwood."* 

Caroline Elizabeth Sarah, Lady Stirling- 
Maxwell, has been celebrated alike for her genius, 
her beauty, and her misfortunes, all so exceptional 
that any one of them would have been sufficient 
to have kept her name from sinking into oblivion. 
A certain section of the world was inclined to 
think harshly of her ; but she had a staunch clique 
of true friends who knew and appreciated her, and 
who always stood by her. Amongst these was 
Rogers, the poet. In his gossiping " Diary" — 
which, by the way, is not as popularly known as 
it deserves to be — Henry Crabb Kobinson thus 
describes a, dinner at Rogers's : — 

* The Athenceum, June 23rd, 1877. 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 269 

" 30, Eussell Square, 31st January, 1845. 

*' I dined this day with Kogers, the Dean of the 
poets. We had an interesting party of eight : 
Moxon, the pubhsher ; Kenny, the dramatic poet 
(who married Mrs. Ilolcroft, now become an old 
woman), himself decrepit without being very old ; 
Spedding, Lushington, and Alfred Tennyson, three 
young men of eminent talent belonging to literary 
young England ; the latter, Tennyson, being by 
far the most eminent of the young poets. His 
poems are full of genius, but he is fond of the 
enigmatical, and many of his most celebrated 
pieces are really poetic riddles. He is an admirer 
of Goethe, and I had a long iete-d-tete with him 
about the great poet. We waited for the eighth 
— a lady who, Kogers said, was coming on purpose 
to see Tennyson, whose works she admired. He 
made a mystery of this fair devotee, and would 
give no name. 

** It was not till dinner was half over that he 
was called out of the room, and returned with a 
lady under his arm. A lady, neither sj)lendidly 
dressed nor strikingly beautiful, as it seemed to 
me, was placed at the table. A whisper ran along 
the company, which I could not m.ake out. She 
instantly joined our conversation, with an ease 
and spirit that showed her quite used to society. 
She stopped a little too near my prejudices by a 



270 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

harsh sentence about Goethe, which I resented. 
And we had exchanged a few sentences when she 
named herself, and I then recognised tlie much 
eulogised and calumniated Honourable Mrs. Nor- 
ton, who, you may recollect, was purged by a jury 
finding for the defendant in a crim. con. action by 
her husband against Lord Melbourne. When I 
knew who she was, I felt that I ought to have 
distinguished her beauty and grace by ray own 
discernment, and not waited for a formal an- 
nouncement. You are aware that her position in 
society was, to a great degree, imperilled."* 

Lady Stirling-Maxwell was always one of the 
most courted and esteemed of Tlogers's guests ; and 
she gives the following tribute to her host's pro- 
verbial taste and refinement : — 

Who can forget, who at thy social board 
Hath sat, and seen the pictures richly stored, 
In all their tints of glory and of gloom, 
Brightening the precincts of thy quiet room, 
With busts aTid statues full of tliat dcc)) grace 
Which modern hands have lost the slcill to trace, 
Fragments of beauty, perfect as thy song 
On that sweet land to which they did belong, — f 
Th' exact and classic taste by thee displayed, 
Not with a rich man's idle, fond i)arade, 
Not with the pomp of some vain connoisseur, 
Proud of his bargains, of his judgment sure ; 



* Diary of H. 0. Robinson, vol. iii. p. 201. 
f In allusion to the poet's " Italy." 



LADY STIRLING-MAXWELL. 271 

]lnt with the feelingg, kind and sad, of one 
"Who thro' far countries wandering hath gone, 
And brought away dear keepsakes, to remind 
Ilis heart and home of all he left behind ?* 

Like her sister, Lady DufFerin, Lady Stirling- 
Maxwell married again late in life. The former 
married a man when he was on his deathhed, the 
latter married when she was almost on hers. 
Early in the spring of the present year, Mrs. 
Norton was married in her own drawing-room. 
Queen Street, Mayfair, to Sir William Stirling- 
Maxwell, a man distinguished in letters and poli- 
tics. Tlieir friendship had been long and aflec- 
tionate, and the wrongs and bitter griefs of her 
early womanhood found a balm in the respect and 
love which was shown to her in her old ag-e. 
Lady Stirling-Maxwell did not long enjoy her 
new dignity : she died a few weeks after her 
marriage, at the age of sixty-nme. The fitful 
fever of her life is over, but the story of this mis- 
judged and gifted daughter of a gifted race must 
ever provoke the tear of sympathy, whilst her 
brilliaiit genius must compel the admiration of all. 
It is much to be regretted there is no collected 
and popular edition, of Lady Stirling- Maxwell's 
poems. The majority of them are not as well 



* From " Tlic Dream." 



272 



ILLUSTRIOUS IBISnW03IEN. 



known as they deserve to be, and for that reason 
we have quoted largely from them. We trust 
that at no distant day we shall see the announce- 
ment of this valuable addition to our modern 
poets. 




PAET V. 



MISCELLANEOUS. 



VOL. II. T 





THE LADY FREEMASON. 

(HONOURABLE Mrs. ALD WORTH.) 
Born 1713. 

HE Hon. Elizabeth St. Leger claims a 
place in the annals of noted Irishwomen, 
from the strange circumstances which 
have concurred to hand down her name to pos- 
terity. In the only portrait of her ever known to 
have been taken, she is represented as wearing 
her Masonic jewels and apron. The face is that of 
a, woman of about five-and-thu^ty, with a pleasing 
Madonna-like cast of countenance. Benevolence 
and strength of character are striking features in 
what — considering the details we have of her life 
— must be a faithful likeness. 

The subject of this memoir was the youngest 
child and only daughter of the Right Honourable 
Arthur St. Leger, created first Viscount Doneraile, 
June 23rd, 1703, and of his wife Elizabeth, the 
daughter and heiress of John Hayes, Esq., of 
Winchilsca. She was married to llichard Aid- 
worth, Esq., of Newmarket, County Cork, wlio 

T 2 



276 ILLU8TBI0TT8 IRISHWOMEN. 

was the son of Sir Kicliard AlJworth, Provost 
Mareschal of Munster ; but the date of the mar- 
riage is uncertain. 

Lord Doneraile, the father of the Hon. Elizabeth 
St. Leger, was a zealous Freemason. He held 
a warrant, which empowered him occasionally to 
open Lodge at his own residence, Doneraile Plouse, 
where, it is recorded, the duties of Freemasonry 
were never more rigidly performed than by the 
Masonic brethren of Lodge 150 — the number of 
the warrant.* In the performance of these rites, 
Lord Doneraile was usually assisted by his son 
and by some intimate friends. The meetings were 
sometimes held in the town of Doneraile, but more 
frequently at Doneraile House, as in the instance 
about to be related. 

Either in the year 1732 or 1733, when Eliza- 
beth St. Leger was about nineteen or twenty 
years of age, tlie Lodge was held one niglit at her 
father's residence. Wliether by design or accident 
cannot be confidently affirmed, but the fact remains 
that she certainly was in the room adjoining the 
one where the Lodge was being held on this par- 
ticular occasion. This room was at the time 
undergoing some alterations. Amongst other 
things, the wall had been considerably reduced in 



* Anotlier account says tlie number of tlie warrant was " 44." 



THE LADY FREEMASON. 277 

one part, for the purpose of making a saloon. 
The young lady, having heard the voices of the 
Freemasons, and being giddy and thoughtless, felt 
a most intense desire to gratify her curiosity, and 
to witness this mystery so long, so faithfully, 
and so secretly locked up from public view. She 
made her arrangements accordingly, and, with a 
pair of scissors, removed a portion of a brick from 
the thin part of the wall, placing herself so as 
to command a full view of everything that passed 
in the next room. So situated, she witnessed the 
two first steps in Masonry, which was the extent 
of the proceedings of the Lodge for that night. 
Curiosity satisfied, fear now took possession of her 
mind ; for, from what she heard, she concluded 
tliat the brethren were about to separate. For 
the first time she became tremblingly aware of the 
awkwardness and danger of her situation, and 
hastily began to consider how she could retire 
without observation. 

There was no mode of escape except through 
the very room where the concluding portion of 
the second step was being performed. The apart- 
ment was a very large one ; the ceremony was 
being performed at the very far end of it, and the 
brethren were all deeply engaged. Quick as 
thought, Miss St. Leger had resolution enough 
to attempt her escape. She glided along unob- 



278 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

served, laid her hand on the handle of the door, 
and gently opening it, to her dismay saw, stand- 
ing on the lobby outside, a grim and surly " tiler," 
with his long sword unsheathed. With a shriek 
that pierced through the apartment, the terrified 
girl fainted, whilst the indignant brethren gathered 
around her. 

Their first care was to resuscitate Miss St. 
Leger without alarming the house, and then to 
endeavour to learn from her how much she had 
witnessed. She confessed the whole truth, and, 
many of the members being furiously enraged at 
the transaction, she was placed under guard of the 
tiler and a member, in the very room where she 
had lain hidden. The members of the Lodge re- 
assembled, and deliberated as to what, under the 
circumstances, was to be done. For two long 
hours the wretched girl listened to the angry dis- 
cussion, and heard her death deliberately proposed 
and seconded. It is said that she was only saved 
from immediate death by the moving and eai-nest 
supplication of her younger brother. At length 
the good sense of some succeeded in calming, in 
some measure, the irritated feelings of the majority. 
When, after much more had been said, and many 
things had been proposed, she was given the option 
of submitting to the Masonic ordeal to the extent 
she had witnessed ; and, if she refused, the 



THE LADY FREEMASON. 279 

brethren were again to consult. Being waited 
upon to decide, Miss St. Leger, exhausted and 
terrified by the storininess and earnestness of 
the debate, gladly and unliesitatingly accepted 
the offer. 

She was accordingly initiated, and went through 
the ordeal, witliout any of the inmates of the 
house, save those present, being aware of the 
transaction. Thus vanishes the traditional story 
that the lady had hidden herself in a clock-case, 
her presence being betrayed by the whirrmg of 
the works, which she had inadvertently set in 
motion, and was unable to stop. 

As Miss St. Leger, and as Mrs. Aldworth, she 
never made any secret of belongmg to the Masonic 
body. On the contrary, she was rather j^roud of 
the distinction, and it is equally certam that the 
brethren held her in the highest esteem. By her 
marriage Avith Mr. Aldworth she had unlimited 
command of money, and the poor in general — and 
the Masonic poor in particular — had good reason 
to record her numerous and unostentatious acts of 
kindness. 

The Dublin Evening Post and the Dublin Weekly 
Oracle, the two chief papers of the period, have 
some quaint advertisements respecting the per- 
formances given at the Smock Alley and the 
Aimgier Street Theatres, for the benefit of the 



280 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Dublin Masonic Orphan Schools. Upon these 
occasions the brethren walked in procession to the 
theatres, with Mrs. Aldworth at their head, wear- 
ing her apron and other Masonic insignia Per- 
formers such as Mrs. Woflington, George Anne 
Bellamy, Barrington, Sheridan, or Garrick, usually 
gave their services for the sake of the charity ; l)ut 
they were scarcely noticed upon these nigiits, the 
Lady Freemason seated in the front of the stage- 
box being the chief attraction of the evening. 
The house was always crowded when it was 
announced she would attend. 

In the annals of the craft there is not a more 
esteemed name than that of Elizabeth Aldworth. 
Her conduct was unimpeachable in every relation 
of life. She was an excellent practical Christian, 
and most punctual and scrupulous in the perform- 
ance of her Masonic duties. The brethren gene- 
rously admit her many admirable qualities, and 
are unanimous in declaring that far ftom regretting 
her admission into their society, iboy consider her 
name and good deeds reflect a lustre upon the 
Masonic body. 




THE BEAUTIFUL GUNNINGS. 

MAEIA GUNNING. 
Born a.d. 1733. Died a.d. 1761. 

ELIZABETH GUNNING. 
Born a.d. 1734. Died a.d. 1790. 

AY the luck of the Gunnings attend you !" 
was the blessing of an Irish beggar-man 
in Dublin ; and so apposite was the 
ejaculation that it passed into a proverb. Their 
social caieer was as rapid and as brilliant as extra- 
ordinary. They came to London in 1750, and by 
their be.auty at once took society by storm. Their 
intrigues supplied Horace Walpole and the charm- 
ing Berrys with plenty of food for gossip ; one 
cannot help fancying there is a touch of contemp- 
tuous spite in the way in which Miss Berry speaks 
of them — just that spice of feminine jealousy 
which gives a piquancy to her letters : — " They 
have an idea that Lord Blandford is to marry 
Miss Gunning — an idea so improbable that even 
the luck of the Gunnings cannot make one believe 
it." But the beautiful Irish girls did even better 



282 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN, 

than that in the matrimonial market, for they 
were "Countessed and double-Duchessed." 

Well-born and of surpassing lovehness, only 
equalled by their poverty, Maria and Elizabeth 
Gunning were the daughters of John Gunning, 
Esq., of Castle Coote, County Roscommon, and 
of Bridget, daughter of Theobald Burke, sixth 
Viscount Mayo. An Irish gentleman of the rol- 
licking duelling old school, Mr. Guiming died about 
the year 1747, leaving his widow and two daugh- 
ters quite unprovided for. The estate of Castle 
Coote was deeply burdened with debt, so that 
immediately upon the death of her husband Mrs. 
Gunning was obliged to leave the place. She 
removed to Dublin in company with her two 
daughters, and here they resided for some time, 
existing chiefly upon the bounty of their uncle. 
Viscount Mayo. Their house was in Great 
Britain Street — a fashionable locality in that day. 
George Anne Bellamy, in her voluminous Memoirs, 
gives the following account of her first meetmg 
with them : — 

" As I was returning one day from rehearsal at 
the bottom of Britain Street, I heard tlie voice of 
distress. Yielding to an impulse of humanity, I 
overleaped the bounds of good-breeding, and 
entered the house from whence it proceeded. 
When I had done tliis, led by an irresistible 



THE BEAUTIFUL GUNNINGS. 283 

attraction, I entered without ceremony the par- 
lour, the door of which appeared to be guarded by 
persons not at all suited to those within. I here 
found a woman of a most elegant figure, sur- 
rounded by four most beautiful gii'ls, and a sweet 
boy of about three years of age. After makmg 
the necessary apologies for my abrupt intrusion, I 
mformed tlie lady that, as the lamentations of her 
little family had reached my ears as I passed by, 
I had taken the liberty of a neighbour to inquire 
if I could render her any assistance. 

•' Mrs. Gunning (for that was the lady's name) 
arose immediately from her seat, and caUing me 
by my name, tlianked me for the offer of my 
assistance, complimenting me at the same tune 
upon possessing such humane sensations. She 
then informed me that, having Hved beyond their 
income, her husband had been obhged to retire 
into the country to avoid the disagreeable conse- 
quences that must ensue. That she had been in. 
hopes that her brother. Lord Mayo, listeiung to 
tlie dictates of fraternal affection, would not suffer 
a sister and her family to be reduced to distress ; 
but that his Lordship remained inflexible to her 
repeated sohcitations. The ill-lookuig men, I now 
found, had entered the house by virtue of execu- 
tion, and were preparing to throw her and her 
children out of doors." 



284 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

George Anne Bellamy introduced Mrs. Gunning 
and her beautiful daughters to some members of 
her own profession, and at one time, it is said, the 
girls had thoughts of acting on the stage as a pro- 
fession. They became acquainted with Garrick 
and Peg Woffington. The former advised their 
mother to have them presented at the Viceregal 
Court, where their beauty could not fail to attract 
attention. Mrs. Gunning took the manager's 
advice, and the future fine ladies of fashion made 
their curtsies before the representatives of 
Koyalty at Dublin Castle, clad in clothes from the 
theatrical wardrobe, lent by good-hearted Peg 
Woffington. They forgot a good deal of Peg 
Woffington's and of Mrs. Bellamy's kindness in 
after years. The latter even lent Maria Gunning 
a good deal of money, wliich she had no little 
difficulty in having repaid in after years, when 
the beautiful Countess snubbed the popular 
actress. 

Tliey went to London, and in 1751 Horace 
Walpole writes thus of the beautiful Gunnings : — 
" There are two Irish girls of no fortune, who are 
declared the handsomest women alive. I think 
their being two so handsome, and both such per- 
fect figures, is their chief excellence, for, singly, I 
have seen much handsomer figures than either ; 
however, they can't walk in the Park or go to 



THE BEAUTIFUL GUNNINGS. 285 

Vauxliall but sucli mobs follow them that they are 
therefore driven away." 

Their marriages were the great public events of 
1752. Maria married the Earl of Coventry, and 
Elizabeth took for her first husband, on St. Valen- 
tine's Day, 1752, the sixth Duke of Hamilton. 
The elder sister was eighteen, the younger seven- 
teen, when the marriages took place. The beauty 
and the luck of the Gumiings was the theme of 
conversation in coffee-room and drawing-room. 
PoHtics were only a bad second in public estima- 
tion, for before them even ranked Miss Jeffries 
and Miss Blandy, two murderesses, who were 
hanged at Newgate the same year. " The general 
attention," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, '' is divided 
between the two young ladies who were married 
and the two young ladies who were hanged." 

In 1754 Mrs. Mary Delany wrote thus of 
Maria : — " Yesterday, after chapel, the Duchess 
brought home Lady Coventry to feast me, ajid a 
feast she was ! She is a fine figure and vastly 
handsome, notwithstanding a silly look sometimes 
about her mouth ; she has a thousand airs, but 
with a sort of innocence that diverts one ! Her 
dress was a black silk sack, made for a large hoop, 
which she wore without any, and it trailed a yard 
on the gromid ; she had on a cobweb-laced hand- 
Is orchicf, a piiik satin long cloak, lined with 



286 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

ermine, mixed with squirrel skins ; on lier head a 
French cap that just covered the top of her head, 
of blond, and stood in the form of a butterfly 
with its wings not quite extended ; frilled sort of 
lappets crossed under her chin, and tied with 
pink and green ribbon — a head-dress that would 
have charmed a shepherd / She has a thousand 
dimples and prettinesses in her cheeks, her eyes 
a little drooping at the corners, but fine for all 
that.* 

These beauties had a brother, a General Gun- 
ning, of whom we do not hear much, save that he 
seemed to be a kind of factotum for his sisters. 
We hear of one of them giving her name as a 
surety for the rent, when he wanted to hire the 
Marchioness of Tweeddale's house on Twicken- 
ham Common. Another account gives an amusing 
picture of him at a masquerade given by the 
Duke of Richmond at Priory Gardens on June 
6th, 1763 : — " There was old General Gunning in 
a running footman's habit, with Lady Coventry's 
picture at his button-hole, like a Croix de St. 
Louis." This erratic elderly gentleman was a 
constant source of annoyance to his sisters. 
Finally, he ran away with his tailor's wife, and 
henceforward society knew him no more. 



Memoirs of Mrs. Delany, by Lady Llanover, vol. iii. p. 300. 



THE BEAUTIFUL GUNNINGS. 287 

Notwithstanding lier exceeding beauty, Maria 
Gunning, Countess of Coventry, was accustomed 
to use cosmetics to such an extent that she 
seriously affected her health thereby. In 1752, 
tlie year in which she was married, and when the 
"Gunninghiad" was at its height, she had already 
had the seeds of disease sown in her constitution 
by this most pernicious habit. In 1759 she died 
suddenly of rapid consumption and paralysis. 
She was the elder and more beautiful of the two 
sisters, and the very year she died her portrait 
was jniinted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. In one of her 
gossiping letters, Mrs. Mary Delany says : — 

" And what a wretched end Lady Coventry 
makes after her short-lived reign of beauty ! Not 
contented with the extraordinary share Providence 
had bestowed on her, she presumptuously and 
vainly thought to mend it, and by that means 
they say has destroyed her Hfe ; for Dr. Taylor 
says the white she made use of for her face and 
neck was rank poison ; I wish it may be a warning 
to her imitators."* 

The chief rival of the Countess of Coventry was 
Lady Caroline Petersham. When the former died. 
Lady Caroline contrived, with the help of the 
Viscountess Townshend and the Duchess of Devon- 



Mcmoira of Mrs. Delany, by Lady Llauover, vol. iii. p. 584. 



288 ILLUSTRIOUS IltlSUWOMEN. 

shire, to keep the town in talk ; the first by her 
beauty and oddity, the second by her cleverness, 
and the tliird by her meanness and vulgarity. Up 
to the very last Lady Coventry kept up an 
appearance of gaiety, and gave her little dinners 
as usual 

In the same year, 1750, Sir Joshua Heynolds also 
painted the portrait of the Duchess of Hamilton, who 
had now the field all to herself, and reigned supreme 
Queen of Beauty. She went on a visit to York- 
shire about this time, and seven hundred people 
sat up all night to see her get into her postchaise 
in the morning ; whUst a shoemaker in Worcester 
turned an honest penny by exhibiting her Grace's 
shoe. 

Elizabeth Gunning, Duchess of Hamilton, took 
for her second husband Colonel John Campbell, 
Lord Lome, afterwards fifth Duke of Argyll, for 
whom she had refused the Duke of Bridgewater, 
the father of British inland navigation. Alwut 
the time of her marriage there was some scandal 
afloat concerning the conduct of General Gunning 
towards his wife, but it was hushed up. 1'liis 
brother was always a mauvais siijet. The fasti- 
dious Horace Walpole especially disliked him, and 
lampooned liim as follows : — 



THE BEAUTIFUL GUNNINGS. 289 

Berkeley Square, June 2, 1791. 

To THE TUNE OP " TlIE CoW WITH THE OkUMPLED HoRN," &C. 

This is the note that nobody wrote. 

This is the groom that carried the note that nobody wrote. 

This is ]\I;i.'am Gunning, who was so very cunning, to examine 
the groom that carried the note that nobody wrote. 

This is Ma'am Bowcn, to whom it was owing, that Miss Minify 
Gunning was so very cunning, to examine the groom that carried 
the note that nobody wrote. 

These are the Marquises, shy of the horn, who caused the 
maiden all for-lorn, to become on a sudden so tattered and torn, 
that Miss Minify Gunning was so very cunning, to examine the 
groom, &c. 

Tiiese are the two Dukes, whose sharp rebukes made the two 
Marquises shy of the horn, and caused the maiden all £or-lorn, &c. 

This is the General, somewhat too bold, whose head was so 
hot, though liis heart was so cold ; who proclaimed himself single 
before it was meet, aud his wife and his daughter turned into the 
street, to please the two Dukes, whose sharp rebukes, &c. 

Indeed, "trim Horace" does not seem ever to 
have forgiven the heautiful Gunnings for being 
" Coimtessed and double-Duchessed," and never 
fails to give a sidelong sneer at them whenever he 
can. The coterie at Teddington had little in 
common, save rank, with the fast gay ladies of the 
capital. 

Whilst Duchess of Argyll, she was sent to bring 
over the Princess Charlotte, that notable little 
lady who packed her own things before starting, 
and arrived in London with several huge cases 
filled with house-linen, and one small hair- covered 
trunk containing her modest wardrobe. The 
Princess preserved her equanimity until she 

VOL. II. u 



290 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

came in siglit of St. James's, when she became 
frightened, and almost began to cry. The expe- 
rienced Duchess smiled. "Yes," said the Princess, 
rather angrily, " you may laugh. Duchess, you 
have been married twice, but to me it is no joke !" 
It has been hinted that, after the Princess became 
Queen of England, she had veiy good reason to be 
jealous of His Majesty's attentions to the Duchess 
of Argyll. 

After a brilliant career, Elizabeth, Duchess of 
Argyll, died, on May 27th, 1790, aged sixty-six. 
She was the cleverer of the two sisters, and a 
woman possessed of much common sense and 
business capacity, Altliougli fond of money and of 
power, she used the former charitably and she 
did not abuse the latter. 




THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 




LADY ELEANOR CHARLOTTE BUTLER. 

Born 1739. Died 1829. 

MISS SARAH PONSONBY. 

Born 1755. Died 1831. 

ANY Lave been the conjectures as to why 
these two eccentric ladies should have 
left family and friends, and have hved for 
so many years together in perfect friendship. 
The world made free with tlieir names, but they 
lived down all scandal, and the highest in the land 
were proud to call them friends. Then" origmal 
idea had been to retire from the world — 

The world forgetting, by the world forgot ; 

and to find a solace for all worldly ills in mutual 
friendsliip. But the world would not permit them 
to do this. The fame of their romantic friendship 
spread far and wide, and the cottage at Llan- 
gollen became the scene of a succession of coteries 
as brilliant as those of Mrs. Garrick, and as learned 
afi those of Mrs. Montagu. For in the Llan- 
gollen cottage the events and scandals of the great 

u 2 



292 ILLUSTRIOUS IIlISnWOMEN. 

world were as well known as in the salons of 
London and Paris. 

The following letters and details of the lives of 
these two ladies — which have never befoi-e been 
published — have been supplied by their relative 
and executor, C W, Hamilton, Esq., of Hamwood, 
County Meath, These details include extracts 
from the Diary of a Mrs. Goddard, a manuscript 
remarkable not alone for the liglit which it throws 
upon this curious friendship, but also as being an 
excellent picture of the social life of the age 
wherein it was wiitten. 

Lad}^ Eleanor Butler, who was born about the 
year 1739, was the daughter of Walter, sixteentli 
Earl of Ormond. She liad been educated in 
France, and it is conjectured tliat she there accpiired 
habits of taste and refinement whicli rendered 
the , society of Kilkenny, where she resided with 
her motlier and sisters, very distastefid to hei". 
She is also supposed to have had some love affair 
when in France, and to have been disappointed, 
for the recollections of Fi-ance seem to have been 
strongly rooted in her mind, and amongst the 
pleasantest of her associations. When she was on 
her deathbed, she insisted upon Miss Ponsonby, 
who was then seventy-four years old, sitting on 
her bed and quavering forth Malhrook sen vat en 
guerre. 



TEE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 293 

Her home was not a happy one, for her mother 
was of a violent and eccentric temper. When this 
old lady died, there was some confusion at her 
funeral, and the people of Kilkenny said they 
expected her to rise in her coffin and abuse them ! 
Thus, disappointed in love and with an uncon- 
genial home, Lady Eleanor Butler conceived the 
idea of forming this romantic friendship with Miss 
Ponsonby, of retiring from the world, and of their 
living for each other in some secluded spot. 

The idea first took possession of her mind in 
1778, wlien she was thirty-nine years old. Miss 
Ponsonby was but twenty-three, and sixteen 
years her junior. 

Miss Sarah Ponsonby was the daughter of 
Chambre Ponsonby, and niece of Lady Betty 
Fownes. The latter was the daughter of the first 
Lord Bessborough. Miss Ponsonby was adopted 
by Sir William and Lady Betty Fownes, and 
lived with them at Woodstock, in the County 
Killtenny, and also at No. 40, Dominick Street, 
Dublin, during the Parliamentary session. Sir 
William and Lady Betty always treated her as 
their daugliter, and gave her every advantage. 
Slie was very higlily educated, was a good linguist, 
and sketched well from Nature. Apparently she 
lijid every comfort and blessing that wealth and 
affection could bestow upon her, so that it was 



294 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

with no slight degree of consternation her adopted 
mother and friends heard of her determination to 
share the fortunes of Lady Eleanor Butler. 

Their friends were in despair at their strange 
decision, and did all in their powder to dissuade 
them from it. But all to no purpose ; they had 
made up their minds to go away, and nothing 
could turn them from it. They were questioned 
as to their motives, but preserved silence, giving 
no satisfaction beyond saying tliat they wislied to 
spend the remainder of their lives in the society of 
each other. Finding their relatives and fiiends 
obdurate, they determined to run away. 

The first attem2:>t was a failure, in consequence 
of Miss Ponsonby breaking her leg in trying to 
get over the park wall, at an early hour of the 
morning. Lady Eleanor (then Miss) Butler had 
made an appointment to meet her at a ruined 
abbey near ThomastoAvn, and there they were 
obliged to spend the night. 

The fugitives were brought back in disgi'ace, 
but made a second attempt at the end of March, 
1778. This time they got as far as the quay at 
Waterford, when they were again captured, and 
Miss Ponsonby brought back by Lady Betty 
Fownes, whilst Miss Butler was sent to her sister 
Elizabeth, Mrs. Kavanagh, of Borris. 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 295 

The following letter is from Mrs. Tighe, Lady 
Betty Fownes's only daughter. It is addressed to 
Mrs. Goddard, the valued friend of the family, 
before referred to, extracts from whose Diary must 
form the staple of this memoir. 

"My dear Mrs. Goddard,— The runaways 
are caught, and we shall soon see our amiable 
Friend again, whose conduct, though it has an 
apjjearance of imprudence, is, I am sure, void of 
any serious impropriety. There were no gentle- 
men concerned ; nor does it appear to be anything 
more than a scheme of romantic friendship. My 
mother is gone to Waterford for Miss Butler and 
her, and we expect to see them, to-night. I am 
ha})py at having this opportunity of giving my 
dear Mrs. Goddard pleasure, and of assuring her I 
am her affectionate friend and servant, 

" a TiGHE. 

" Woodstock, 2 April, 1 778." 

That these two eccentric ladies had each a 
secret reason for wishing to fly from the world, 
and were equally determined not to disclose that 
secret, is quite clear. The following letter from 
Lady Betty Fownes shows plainly that even their 
most intimate friends had no idea of the real 
causes which actuated their movements. 



296 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

"My D" G.,— Sally ^' is much better, but 
very weak, low, and dejected. She made me 
watch the windows all day yesterday, she was so 
sure you would have come, and told me to-day 
she would write you a line. Sure you will lose no 
time. She was most anxious to see your letter to 
me. I did not read it all, as anything against 
Miss B. is death to her. Be very cautious till we 
meet. Stories, to be sure, there must be in plenty. 
I can't help giving credit to S. P.'s, which is that 
they were to live together. A convent, I used to 
think, but she now says that is what she flew 
from, and that we were all much mistaken, and 
that if we knew Miss B. we would love her as ^vell 
as she did. Altogether, it is a most extraordinary 
affair. I sometimes can hardly think the cause is 
known by any but themselves. God knows how 
it is, or how it will end, I know she is very ill. 
I am sure nothing could be of so much use to her 
as seeing you, and hearing you talk to lier. I 
think you will soon come now, my dear. She has 
taken my little senses away. I sometimes sit for 
hours and can't speak to her. Sally Tighe has 
been of infinite use to her ; if she had not been 
here I must have died, I really think. She is so 
clever at preaching to her. I fear they must very 



* Miaa Ponsonby was always called " Sally" iu the fajoaily. 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 297 

soon leave me, and then indeed, if you don't come, 
I sliall give myself up at once. God bless you. 
Ever yours. 

" Write, if it be but a line every day. Enclose 
to Sir W"" 

The following letter is also from Lady Betty 
Fownes, and shows conclusively both her affection 
for Miss Ponsonby and her distress at her un- 
accountable conduct. It was written the Sunday 

after the preceding one. 

" Sunday. 
" A very bad night ; her throat much inflamed ; 
her fever not so great. If she forgets herself for a 
little, she starts and seems m such a way that I 
dread her sleeping. I think her in very great 
danger. I seldom leave her. God's will be done. 
Miss B. has wi'ote her a letter every day, wliich 
distressed her to read. I am astonished she will 
do it. This day I write to Mrs. Kavanagh, of 
Borris, to beg Miss B. might not write volumes to 
her till she was better, and this day a letter to 
me from Mrs. K., but none from her. Dr. Baker 
is here, does all he can, and she seems to like liim. 
It is a most extraordinary affair. Nobody could 
behave with more good sense or prudence than 
Mrs. Hamerton, who was sent for her, and never 
quit her till she brought her back to Bally- 
hail. She is now at Borris, and, by all we can 



298 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

learn, very well — dines with the family, and seems 
hearty ; but I can scarcely believe it. This poor 
creature, I am sure, could not. Shall we see you 1 
God grant it ! She has raved of you ; and yester- 
day I told her I had written to press you. She 
seemed quite delighted, and said that would be 
the thing. We hear the Butlers are never to 
forgive their daughter, and that she is to be sent 
to France to a convent. I wish she had been safe 
in one long ago ; she would have made us all 
happy. Many an unhappy hour she has cost me, 
and, I am convinced, years to Sally. It is happy 
for you you were not here at the time. Now is 
the time to show friendship to her, which I think 
you will, and to your very affectionate friend, 

*'E. FOWNES." 

Yet one letter more upon this subject. It is 
from Miss Ponsonby, and shows how fully she had 
made up her mind to accompany Miss Butler. 

" I thank you, my dear friend, for the good 
opinion of me expressed in your letter received 
this day by Lady Betty. I am not yet recovered, 
although I made a visit to Borris the day before 
yesterday. A constant head and heart ache. I 
have much to tell you ; but as it is not, I hope, 
many days ere I shall have an opportunity of 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 299 

Speaking, I defer writing, being ^particularly weak 
to-day. They propose great terms to Miss B. if 
she will reside in a convent some years, and give 
nie up for ever. I am not heroic enough to wish 
she should accej^t them, nor is she, I believe, to 
listen to them. Worn out by misfortunes, I have 
still the comfort of self-approbation. Were it to 
do agam, I would act as I have done. If it is any 
satisfaction to you to know that you possess a 
third place, at least, in an almost broken heart, be 
assuj'cd of it. God bless you. 

"Lady Betty, just returned from *Kilkenny, 
desires you will excuse her writing. Her head 
very bad. Thanks you for your letter." 

Mrs. Goddard, the lady from whose Diary the 
following extracts are taken, seems to have been a 
trusted mutual friend. The entries commence 
with June 15th, 1774, before which date Mrs. 
Goddard had become a widow. She appears to 
have played no unimportant part in the brilliant 
Dublin society of the time, and was constantly 
paying visits in the country. The accounts of 
these visits ; of the company she met with at the 
various country houses, and the modes of loco- 
motion, are as graphic and interesting as they are 



* Not from the Castle. 



300 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISHWOMEN. 

amusing. Even the expenses of lier journeys are 
recorded — documents now valualile as showing the 
way in which a gentlewoman travelled a hundred 
years ago. Mrs. Goddard was an indefatigahle 
letter-writer, and her correspondence was most 
voluminous. Evidently the confidante of many, 
she heard everything and said nothing. She 
understood the motives of actions which the world 
wondered at, and in no case more clearly than in 
that of the romantic friendshij) between the ladies 
of Llangollen. 

Mrs. Goddard, as we gather from her journal, 
was in constant correspondence with Sir William 
and Lady Betty Fownes, and also with Miss 
Ponsonby, their adopted daughter. Their names 
are frequently mentioned in the Diary ; and we 
find she also visited them occasionally, both in 
Dominick Street, Dublin, and at Woodstock. An 
entry respecting one of her visits to Lady Betty is 
rather amusing : — 

''Friday, 4/A.~Play'd cribbage with Mr. Z. 
He asked me was I well ; feared I was not, as I 
hardly eat anything. I s'' I was very well, and 
eat as much as I cou'd. 

" Sunday, iSth. — The rest of the family went to 
Kilkenny ; Mr. Z. and I to Woodstock, where I 
spent a most agreeable fortniglit. Lady Betty 
sometimes made me nervous by her violent attacks 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 301 

on Mr. Z. to many me, and lier continually urging 
me to do the same, though neither of us had the 
least thought of each other. She went so far as 
to say I ought, and it wou'd be a praiseworthy 
thing of me to offer myself to him, for that she 
was siu-e the ]:>roposal would be accepted with 
transport. He would live at least ten years the 
longer for it, and both of us much happier than 
we are." 

Mrs. Goddard did not take Lady Betty's advice. 
She remained a widow, going about amongst her 
friends and enjoying life. It would seem that to 
her (done Miss Ponsonby revealed her true reason 
for wishing to go off with Miss Butler. That 
reason was none less than that the old Sir William 
Fownes had made love to his adopted daughter. 
Miss Ponsonby could no longer remain under his 
roof ; and she evidently shrank from wounding the 
feeUngs of her kind adopted mother by revealing 
the true cause of her wishing to leave Woodstock. 
Unfortunately, it was whispered abroad, although 
nothing definite was known, and there is very 
little doubt but that the fear of exposure hastened 
Sir William Fownes s death. 

So for more than half a century Miss Ponsonby 
kept her secret, and the busy world employed 
itself in conjectures respecting this romantic 
friendship — conjectures all of them wide of the 



302 ILLUSTBIOUS IBISHWOMEN. 

truth. The following extracts from Mrs. Goddard's 
Diary tell the whole story : — 

1778. 

^' April. Thursday, 2ncl — Got a letter from 
L. B. F.* and Mrs. Medows to tell me that Miss 
Butler and Miss Pons, had run away the Monday 
before. Wrote to both that day, and with a 
fretting heart. Went with B. B.f, Nancy, Kitty, 
and Anne to masquerade it at Fall's. 

"Friday, ^rd. — Having no account of tlieir 
being found, staid at home to think of them. 
Wrote to Mrs. Medows. 

'" Saturday, Uh. — Got a letter from Mrs. Tiglie ;| 
anotlier from S"" William to tell me they were 
catched and in safety. Wrote to my two intelli- 
gencers, and went with Mrs. Rochfort to the 
Italian Opera, where we were well frightened with 
the riot between the army and mob, and did not 
come home until past one. 

" Sunday, 5th. — At the Magdalen ;§ drank stupid 
tea with tlie Newcomens. 

''Monday, ^th. — Got letters from Lord S. Z.,|| 
with the news of Miss P.'s flight, and L. B. F.,^[ 



* Lady Betty Fownes. 
f Either Barbara or Betty Bciiuett. J Already given. 

§ The Church attached to the Maydalen Asylum, Lower Leeaon 
Street, Dubhn. 

I) Lord Shuldham Izod. ^ Letter already given. 



TUE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 303 

telling me she (Miss P.) was very ill. Went with 
Beck and Mrs. RochfoTt to * School for Scandal ;' 
saw L*^ (Shuldham Izod) there, who wished to 
talk with me on the runaways, but we were too 
much surrounded. " 

Later on the subject is resumed. 

" Wednesday, '2'2nd. — Got a letter from L. B. F. 
to tell me Miss Butler had again absconded from 
Borris* on Sunday night. Wrote to L. B. F., Miss 
Pons., and Z. 

" Thursday, 23rd — F. H. came. Got another 
letter to tell me Miss Butler was and had been at 
Woodstock, conceal'd by Miss P. from Sunday 
till Monday night without their privity. Wrote 
to L. B. F. At Mrs. lladclifie's in the evening to 
speak to the Bishop of Elphin, 

" Friday, 24th. — Set out with Jane. Dined at 
Mrs. Eustace's, Naas, u})on excellent mutton-chops. 
Slept at O'Brien's, TimoUn. 

"Saturday, 'Ihth. — Stop'd at Carlow ; saw Mrs. 
Best, the little Warrens. Dined at the Boyal Oak, 
and got to Woodstock at nine ; a most terrible 
long jaunt it was. Found them all in distraction. 
Saw my poor Miss Pons., but Miss B. did not 
appear. 

" Sunday, 2Qth. — Saw Miss Pons, again, who 



* The lesidcuce of lier sister Elizabeth, Mrs. Kavanagh. 



304 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

came dowii to dinner ; but Miss B, not till even- 
ing, when she came in to tea, but did not speak 
to me. 

'^Monday, '2.1 th. — Spoke to them both. Gave 
them my best advice, which they seemed to take 
well, and I hoped from their manner wou'd have 
been followed. They both dined with us. 

" Tuesday, 2Sth. — L, B. F. made me go with 
her to talk to them. They seem'd to have grown 
hardened in their resolution of going together. 
Mr. Park came with Mr. Butler's permission that 
they should go together, and talk'd in vain to dis- 
suade them from it. They w** not show themselves 
below to-day. 

" Wednesday, 2m.— S' William wrote to S"" W. 
Barker and CoU. Lyons, to acquaint them of their 
resolution, and to Mr. Butler, entreating he w^ 
come for his Daughter. F. H. staid with me until 
this day. 

" T/mrsday, SO^A. — The Ladies didnot come down 
to dinner, for fear Mr. Park should be questioned 
about Miss P. 

" Friday, May the 1st. — L. B. and I set out 
with Mr. Park, who was going to Kilkenny, at 
eight in the morning. We parted him on the 
road, and then breakfasted with Mr. Z., to whom, 
by Miss Pons' desire, I told the secret transaction 
between her and S" William. Beturned to dinner. 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 305 

when the ladies joined us, and Miss P. play'd 
cards in the evening. 

''Saturday, the '2nd. — I talk'd again to Miss 
Pons., and to dissuade her from her purpose, but 
to discharge my conscience of the duty I owed 
her as a friend by letting her know my opinion of 
Miss Butler, and the certainty I had they would 
never agree living together. I spoke of her with 
, harshness and freedom ; said she had a debauch 'd 
mind ; no ingredients for friendship, that ought to 
be founded on Virtue, whereas hers every day 
more and more showed me was acting in direct 
opposition to it, as well as to the interest, happi- 
ness, and reputation of the one she professed to 
love. S'' W. joined us, kneel'd, implored, swore 
twice on the Bible how much he lov'd her, would 
never more ollend, was sorry for his past folly, 
that was not meant as she understood it, offered 
to double her allowance of 30/. a year, or add what 
more she i)lea,s'd to it, even tlio' she did go. She 
thank'd him for his past kindness, but nothing c'd 
hurt her more, or w^ she ever be under other 
obligation to him, said if the whole world was 
kneeling at her feet it should not make her 
forsake her purpose — she w*^ live and die with 
Miss B. ; was her own mistress, and if any force 
was used to detain her she knew her own temper 
so well it w*^ provoke her to an act that w** give 

VOL. II. X 



306 ILLUSTRIOUS IltlSHWOMEN. 

her friends more trouble than anything she had 
yet done. She, however, haughtily, and, as it 
were, to get rid him, made S" W. happy by telling 
him if ever she was in distress for money ho shoTild 
be the first she would apply to. They dined, with 
us, and I never saw anything so confident as 
their behaviour. Wrote to Burton and Mrs. 
Medows. 

" Sundai/, Srd. — S'' W. read prayers at home ; 
Miss P. one of the congregation. The fact of theh- 
carriage being come was known to all but L. B. 
We played ' The Game of the Goose,' Mr. Bowers 
looking on. All dull but the girls. At night, 
Miss P. going to bed gave me an embrace. 

^'Monday, ith. — She call'd at my door. I w** 
not open it. (Wrote to Z. Beck and Lord Shuld- 
ham of these matters.) At six in the morning 
they set out, merry as possible. Afem. It was at 
Miss P.'s desire I went to and told Mr. Z. of what 
had pass'd between her and S" W. 
*' Tuesday, 5 th. — Wrote to Beck. 
" Wednesday, 6th. — Wrote to Beck and Mrs. 
Taylor. 

" Thursday, the 1th. — Wrote to Burton and Z. 
Park came. 

" Friday, 8^/i.— Notliing. 

''Saturday, 0th. — Mr. Park went, but left Miss 
Blunt, that he brought with him, behind. 



TRE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 307 

" Sunday, lOih. — Went to Cliurcli. Mr. Hick- 
sou pray'd and preacli'd for the first time. 

"Monday, llth. — We all drank tea with Long. 

" Tuesday, 12 th. 

" Wednesday, 13th. 

" Thursday, 14th. — Nothing. 

''Friday, 15//i.~All went to Kilkenny. The 
family at Woodstock dined at Mr. Park's ; I at 
Mr. Ham's, where I heard S' William's gallantry 
to Miss P. was beginning to be whispered. I paid 
a visit to tlie castle, and not a word was said to 
me of Miss B. " 

The Diary contains nothing very particular for 
the next few days, until Friday, the 22nd, when 
the chronicler records, — 

" L. B. very rude to me at breakfast." 

On that day week she went with Miss Blunt to 
see " the barn the ladies had taken shelter in for 
a day and near two nights." She also says that 
Mrs. Tighe and her family had come to stay at 
Woodstock. 

" Sunday, 31st. — At 3 in the morning was waked 
by S"^ William's roars, who said, and the whole 
house thought, was dying of a strangallion or gout 
in the stomach. He was bled, bathed in warm 
water. I took an opportunity to tell him the 
cause was in his mind, fell asleep at 5, and 
waked pretty well at 11, when he saw Tom 

X 2 



308 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Butler, who had been here two hours, come down 
stairs. 

"Monday, June the Ist. — S"" W. not so well as 
he was ; came down. 

" Tuesday, '2nd. — The same, but did not come 
down ; wrote to Burton. Boyde came ; blister'd, 
glister'd, and physick'd S"" W'° in the space of 
half an hour. 

" Wednesday, ^rd. — T. Butler came ; put on 
fi-esh blisters ; his pulse grew better, 

" Thursday, Ath. — The same. 

"Friday, 5th. — The same. 

"Saturday, ()th. — T. B. came for him; better; 
went away with Boyde. S' W. told me before 
Mrs. Tighe, his illness was his own fault that he 
was punished for, and at eleven at night we all 
went to bed, leaving him with every symptom of 
returning health. 

" Sunday, 1th. — At two in the morning lie was 
seized with a paralytic stroke, lost tlie use of his 
right side, and his s]5eech, and c'' not swallow. 
Expresses sent for T. B., tliat with Boyde came at 
ten. They cupp'd, blistered, and glister'd liim. 
Toward evening he c'^ swallow. 

" ]\fonday, 8ih. — The same. 

*' Tuesday, dth. — A blister on his head made the 
fourteenth he had on him. This night he grew 
better. 

*' Wednesday, 10th. — Dr. Young and Mr. Bowers 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 309 

gave out he was so much better that I walk'd to 
Inistiogue to communicate the good news there. 
On my return found T. Butler here, who thought 
differently, and contrary to his intention when he 
came, not meaning to go till evening, left us at 
one o'clock. Soon after S"" W. grew worse, and 
continued to do so till Thursday, the 11th, at 
eight o'clock, when he died, after an agony of 
twelve hours. 

"Friday, l^th. — Everything dismal. 

'^Saturday, iSth, at near eiglit in the morning, 
he was carried on men's shoulders to Inistiogue, 
and there interred." 

So upper earth has done with the chief agent in 
causing the expatriation of Miss Ponsonby. 

Their friends and relatives, seeing Miss Pon- 
sonby and Miss Butler were so decided in their 
determination to leave Ireland and to live toge- 
ther, at length gave an unwilling consent. They 
set out from Waterford, and arrived at Milford 
Haven on the IGth of May, 1778, accompanied by 
their faithful maid, Betty Carroll. A suitable 
allowance was settled upon them, and as they had 
not yet decided upon a residence in any place in 
particular, they went for a tour tlii'oughout the 
Principality. 

Eventually they settled down in a small farm- 
liouse, close to the village of Llangollen, which, 
imder their care, became a celebrated cottage ornee. 



310 illusthious ihishwomen. 

Every spot of the small grounds surrounding it 
was made the subject of some special interest in 
gardening or rustic ornamentation. The kitchen 
and two sitting-rooms joined the basement story, 
and were kept in beautiful order. The walls were 
adorned with prints and small pictures, and the 
library was full of the works of the best authors, 
English and foreign. 

Such was the retreat where these two eccentric 
women lived for more than half a century. At 
different times, literature, wit, and gossip filled 
these little sitting-rooms; for one of the most 
curious features of this friendship was that the 
world should have so persistently refused to allow 
the ladies of Llangollen to enjoy the seclusion 
which they apparently sought. 

Their friends kept up a constant correspondence 
with them, keeping them well informed of the 
events of the world wliich tliey had left. During 
the disastrous period of tlie Ti-ish IvebeHion of 
1798, they received frequent accounts from their 
friend Mrs. Tighe, of Tlosanna, the motlier-in-laAv 
of " Psyche." Mrs. Tighe's son, Mr. Henry Tighe, 
took an active part during the disturbances, as the 
following letters, written by his mother to Miss 
Ponsonby, will show. 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 311 

« 20 June (1798). 

" My dear Friend, — As you never heard an 
account of our dear Harry s escape, I must men- 
tion it to 3^ou. After the officers were sujiposcd to 
be killed belonging to the Antrim MiUtia, after 
Walpole, through vile generalship, had led the 
tioops into the midst of the foe, Harry took the 
lead of fifteen volunteers and the rest, and had to 
cut his way through half a mile of the Pikemen 
and back again, which he effected with only the 
loss of a few men. He distinguished himself very 
nnich, got great applause, and has been pointed 
out as a person of great bravery. He is safe at 
Eathdrum, and 'greatly beloved by his corps.' 
I hasten to tell you of a diabolical plot just dis- 
covered at Cork to destroy all the Protestants. 
Tlie town was divided into 130 sections, a company 
to each, who were to effect the destruction of all 
the Protestants in each section. This was after- 
Avards, on a small scale, subdivided so that twelve 
men bad each a part allotted them. One of the 
expelled collegians, shocked at the brutality of 
the measure, turned informer. At Waterford, the 
same plan was formed. The King's troops have 
had a victory in County Meath, another on the 
borders of Coimty Wicklow, when 900 of the 
Ilebels were killed, and not one Poyalist." 

There are many letters upon the same subject ; 



312 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

one more we give, as a graphic picture of 
the state of the country. It is also from Mrs. 
Tighe, and addressed to Miss Ponsonby. The 
beginning, which refers to private affairs, is 
omitted. 

"2nd July (1798). 

" My dearest Friend, — 

* * * * 

* * * * 

" In letters which have arrived from the County 
Wicklow to-day, I heard from one who had met a 
man the day before, who, along with his brother, 
had been forced from their ona'u home by the 
Rebels. They had been tried for their lives on 
account of being Protestants, and had made their 
escape when just going to be put to a miserable 
death ; he heard them declare it to be tlieir deter- 
mined intention not to suffer one Protestant to 
live in this Land of Liberty. This was the uni- 
versal view of the Sovereign People, &c. &o. 
Another, whose advice I asked about returning to 
Hosanna, writes : — ' I cannot bid you come ; nor 
do I know when this country will be quiet.' 
Some think Lord Cornwallls will not do much 
good by kindness. The Hebels say they will not 
come in, and submit to slavery. They will not 
submit without a proper peace. Mrs. Eccles, like- 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 313 

wise, advises me to wait for fourteen days the 
result of the Proclamation before I think of mov- 
ing. Harry heard a report of a rising in Dublin. 
He hastened to town, stayed a day, and made us 
happy, as his return on Thursday made us the 
reverse ; for he went back alone. Since that he 
has been out with all the troops to engage 2000 
Eebels within 5 miles of Kathdrum. The first 
cannon oui' troops fired passed over their heads, 
which encouraged them in such a degree to place 
faith in the assurances of their Priests that our 
guns could not hurt them. They made the hills 
resound with tlieir huzzas, flourishing their hats 
on the tops of their pikes. However, another 
shot, better directed, made such a lane through 
the heart of them that they fled in all directions. 
* * * * 

'* Unite your prayers with mine, my dear friend, 
that there may soon be an end to civil war. A 
son killed a father, a brother a brother, near Kil- 
kenny. In the County Kilkenny they are pretty 
quiet. A few nights ago I went to rest with the 
firm persuasion that Kosanna was burned, for I 
was assured that an express had arrived to a 
gentleman, m which it was said Glynmouth 
(within a mile of it) had been burned. 

ijf ■3r * * 

" Poor Mr. 11. Tighe, not only the friend of the 



314 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

poor, but the defender of Popery, liis liouse has 
been ah-eady destroyed. They have made foes of 
many, lie among the rest, who upon Liberal Prin- 
ciples defended them, and wished to convince 
others their religion was not so sanguinary as for- 
merly. Sixty families have quitted their commu- 
nion ; others declare they would do so were they 
not afraid. One man told a friend of mine that if 
he turned he should be murdered. The Cavan 
Militia have turned, and gave the body of 
Murphy, a Priest, to the dogs. They begin to 
discover the delusion that their Priests have kept 
them under so long. I hope they may not fly to 
the other extreme. 



" I can get no list of the Protestants killed at 
Enniscorthy, though on Mary's account I have 
tried to do so ; perhaps before I write next J 
may. The Lord Mayor has a list both of the 
massacred at li^imiscorthy and Wexford. Mi's. 
Richards, even since her escape at Wexford, has 
had another, having been taken and put into a 
house at Enniscorthy to be burned, but escaped 
out of the window. She is, they hope, in Eng- 
land, never to come back. Tell me your opinion 
of this business, and what you tliink will be the 
end. "Ever your affectionate friend." 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 315 

Mrs. Tiglie's letters are most voluminous and 
accurate, and would, if properly edited, form an 
excellent social history of the state of Ireland in 
17,98. 

"The Ladies," as they were now commonly 
called, were objects of interest and curiosity to 
the social world at large. Statesmen, poets, 
authors, artists, and celebrities of all kinds and 
classes corresponded with them, and sought the 
honour of their acquaintance. Amongst the vast 
mass of correspondence which they left are letters 
from Lady Mornington, the mother of the Duke 
of Wellington, and refer to the Duke's first 
appointment : — 

" There are so many little matters to settle for 
Arthur," says Lady Mornington, " who has just 
got into the army, and appointed Aide-de-Camp 
to Lord Buckingham, and must be set out a little 
for that ; in short, / must do everyiliing for him ; 
and when you see him you will think him worthy 
of it, as he really is a very charming young man. 
Never did I see such a change for the better in any- 
body. He is wonderfully lucky : in six months 
he has got two steps m the Army, and appointed 
Aide-de-Camp to Lord Buckingham, which is ten 
shillings a day." 

The Duke of Wellington was their staunch 
friend durmg life, giving good proof of his friend- 



316 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

ship when, in 1829, he procured for them a pen- 
sion of 200/. a year. This was a piece of gross 
jobbery, as they had done nothing whatever to 
entitle them to it. Their means certainly were 
limited, and from various sources we gather they 
applied occasionally to tlieir friends for money. 
Miss Ponsonby's application to her cousin, the 
Earl of Bessborough, was received with much 
coldness. He blamed her for leaving her friends, 
sent her fifty pounds, and requested her not to 
send him any presents. A letter from Edmund 
Burke is interesting, as showing " tlie Ladies" 
were the subjects of scandalous reports in the 
newspapers. 

" My dear Ladies, — I am very much flattered 
by being honoured with your commands. You do 
no more than justice to me and to this family 
when you suppose us ready to do everything in 
our power to show our respect to your character, 
and our grateful remembrance of the poHte and 
hospitable reception you gave us in your elegant 
retirement at Llangollen. It is, however, a most 
sensible mortification to us all that our correspon- 
dence should begin upon an occasion so disagree- 
able. They must be the most wicked, probably — 
certainly the most unthinking — of all wretches, 
who could make that retirement unpleasant to 



TUB LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 317 

you. I have not seen the base publications to 
which you allude. I have spoken to a friend who 
has seen them, and who speaks of them with the 
indignation felt by every worthy mind ; but who 
doubts whether that redress can be had by an 
a.ppeal to the law to which the whole community, 
as well as you, are entitled. There are offences of 
this nature, deserving of the severest punishment, 
but on which it is very difficult, if not impossible, 
to bring the offenders to justice. My brother is 
absent on the Circuit, but my son is here ; and if 
on the perusal of those infamous papers it should 
appear that there is any hope of obtaining a legal 
sentence on their author or publisher, you may be 
assured that no pains shall be wanting for that 
purpose, without trouble or expense to you. I am 
afraid indeed that tliis object cannot be compassed. 
Your consolation must be that you suffer only by 
the baseness of the age you live in ; that you 
suffer from the violence of calumny for the virtues 
that entitle you to the esteem of all who know 
how to esteem honour, friendship, principle, and 
dignity of thinking ; and that you suffer along 
with everything that is excellent in the world. I 
do not wonder that minds tenderly sensible to 
reputation should feel for a moment from this 
shocking licence ; but I should be sorry and 
ashamed for the independence of virtue if the 



318 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISEWOATEN. 

profligacy of others should shorten, or even em- 
bitter in any degree, such valuable lives as yours. 
I trust that the piety, good sense, and fortitude 
that hitherto has distinguished you, and made you 
the mark of envy, even in your retreat, will 
enable you, on recollection, perfectly to despise 
the scandals of those whom, if you knew them, you 
would despise on every other account, and which, 
I faithfully assure you, make no impressions, 
except those of contempt, on any person living. 
The newspapers have overdone their part, and 
have brouglit things to such a point by tlieir 
indiscriminate abuse, that they really contribute 
nothing to raise or lower any character ; so that if 
you contrive to keep yourselves, in your own 
persons, where you naturally are, infinitely above 
the feeling of their malice, the rest of the world 
will not be in the smallest degree influenced by it, 
any further than as you, being objects of low, un- 
merited persecution, will increase their interest in 
characters in every point so formed to engage it. I 
do not know one of the persons who are engaged in 
the conduct of the papers, and have great reluctance 
in acknowledging their importance so far as to 
make an application to them ; but since you desire 
it, I will make an inquiry into their connexions, 
and will take care to have notice given to them to 
attend to their behaviour in future, rather in the 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 319 

style of menace than as asking any favour from 

them. Mrs. Burke desires her most respectful 

and affectionate compliments ; and I shall think 

myself Iiighly honoured if you continue to believe 

me, with the most perfect sentiments of respect 

and regard, 

"Ladies, 

" Your most faithful 

" & most obed* & obhg^ 

" humble servant, 

" Edm. Burke. 

" Beconfield, Ju]y 30tli, 1790." 

There are also letters from Viscount Castle- 
reagli, Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan), Lord 
Bolingbroke, the Duke de Montpensier, Lady 
Davy (the wife of Sir Humphry Davy), some 
lively letters from Miss Harriett Bowdler (a cele- 
brated Bath blue-stocking), from Lady Charlotte 
Bury, soliciting contributions for her " Journal of 
the Heart," from Southey the poet, Thomas 
Moore, and William Wilberforce. The letter of 
the latter is so interesting, as giving the author's 
reasons for the publication of his work on " Prac- 
tical Christianity," that we make no apology for 
inserting it. 

" Barmouth, Sept. 9tli, 1823. 

*' My dear Madam, — I should have lived in 
the world as long as I have done to very little 



320 ILLUSTniOUS IBISHWOMEN. 

purpose, as far as y^ chapter of Manners is in 
question, if I had not learned that if I were 
to wish a Lady of Kank to do me tlie 
honour of accepting any trifling maik of my 
Hespectful Attention, I ouglit not to dispatch 
it hke a collar of Brawn or a Norfolk Tut key at 
Xmas, to be brought in by the Porter of the Stage 
Coach, without other explanation than that of his 
way-bill. I have just now learned, greatly to my 
discomposure, that thus unceremoniously has a 
volume been transmitted to your Ladyship, which 
I had ordered to be delivered l)y my amaunsis ; 
who, having been suddenly called to London l)y 
y® death of a Brother, was to pass through Llan- 
gollen, on his way to this place. Let me beg your 
Ladyship to allo^^'■ y"" imagination to perform the 
easy, because the kind and candid task of su]> 
posing that such was the manner in which my 
book had the honour of being conveyed to y' Lady- 
ship's residence. But y' imagination lias tlie 
farther oflice imposed on it, of supposing {for sucJi 
was my intention) that its introduction was 
attended with an explanatory letter. This desi- 
deratum let me now beg leave to supply. 

" It pleased God, soon after my becoming Mem- 
ber for Yorkshire, by a careful perusal of the Holy 
Scriptures, to^ convince me that the religious sys- 
tem of professed Christians, in the generality of 
the Higher and Middle Classes of this country, 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 321 

was essentially erroneous and defective ; and, 
therefore, that I could not render a more impor- 
tant service to my countrymen in general, in the 
higher ranks of life, and more especially to a very 
numerous body of very kind friends, with whom 
the goodness of Providence had blessed me, than 
endeavour to rectify, wliat ap})eared to me, the 
errors in this most serious of all concerns, and at 
the same time to account for a considerable change 
which they had witnessed in my conduct. So few, 
however, were my seasons of leisure, that it was 
not till 1797 that I was able to finish and lay 
before the world the result of my reflections. And 
then, and ever since, I have taken the liberty of 
presenting my volume to the friendly circle that 
was around me. 

" Permit me to request a place for it in your 
Ladyship's library, and I would take the liberty 
of pointing out the table of contents at the 
Beginning of the volume, which affords the oppor- 
tunity of selecting the j)arts wliich any one may 
think most likely to claim liis perusal. I would 
hint that for those who are at all instructed, the 
introduction had been first penned. The 4*'' & 7^^ 
chapters have been, I believe, most generally 
acceptable. 

" I will only indulge the hope, that if y"" Lady- 
shij) will excuse the very unseemly mode by which 

VOL. II. Y 



322 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

the volume was transmitted, and accept it as a 
testimony of Respect and Regard. 

" Mrs. W. — for all our young people are absent 
from us on a tour — desires me, with my own, to 
present her best respects to your Ladyship and 
Miss Ponsonby, & I have the honour to remain, 
always y"^ Ladyship's obliged & faithful servant, 

" W. WiLBERFORCE, 
"The Lady Eleanor Butler, &c. &c." 

The cottage at Llangollen became, in time, quite 
a Museum, from the many curiosities contributed 
by obliged and admiring friends. It was one of 
the sights of Wales ; and, as years bore on, its 
eccentric occupants no less so. 

In September, 1823, when fulfilling a theatrical 
engagement at Oswestry, the elder Charles 
Mathews thus writes of them : — 

" The dear, inseparable inimi tables, Lady 
Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby, were in tlie 
boxes here on Friday. They came twelve miles 
from Llangollen, and returned, as they never sleep 
from home. Oh ! such curiosities ! I was nearly 
convulsed 1 I could scarcely get on for the first 
ten minutes my eye caught them ! Though I had 
never seen them, I instantly knew them. As they 
are seated, there is not one point to distinguish 
them from men ; the dressing and powdering of 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 823 



tlie hair ; their well-starclied neckcloths ; the 
upper part of their habits, which they always wear, 
even at a dinner-party, made precisely like men's 
coats ; and regular black beaver men's hats. They 
looked exactly like two respectable, superannuated 
old clergymen, one the picture of Borwlaski. I 
was highly flattered, as they never were in the 
theatre before. I. have to-day received an invita- 
tion to call, if I have time as I pass, at Llangollen, 
to receive in due form from the dear old gentlemen, 
called Lady Butler and Miss Ponsonby, their 
thanks for the entertainment I afforded them at 
the theatre." 

Mr. Mathews could not accept the invitation, 
but, more than a month later, he paid his respects 
to " the Ladies" at Porkington. The followmg is 
his humorous and graphic account of the inter- 
view : — 

" Well, I liave seen them, heard them, touched 
them ! The pets — ' The Ladies,' as they are 
called — dined here yesterday : Lady Eleanor 
Butler and Miss Ponsonby, the curiosities of 
Llangollen. ... I mentioned to you in a former 
letter the eflect they jDroduced upon me in public, 
but never sliall I forget the first burst yesterday 
upon entering the drawing-room, to find the dear, 
antediluvian darlings, attired for dinner in the 
same mummified dress, with the Croix de St. 

Y 2 



324 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Louis, and otlier orders, and myriads of large 
brooches, with stones large enough for snuff-boxes, 
stuck in their starched neckcloths. I have not 
room to describe their most fascinating persons. 
1 have an invitation from them which I much fear 
I cannot accept. They returned home last night 
— fourteen miles, after twelve o'clock ! They have 
not slept one night from home for above forty 
years. I longed to put Lady Eleanor under a bell- 
glass, and bring her to Highgate, for you to look 
at." 

When " the Ladies" first Avent to live at Llan- 
gollen, they assumed a style of dress which they 
never afterwards departed from. Their head- 
covering was a sort of l^eaver hat, and they always 
wore long cloth coats, somewhat like ladies' riding 
habits, but with the upper part cut hke a man's 
coat. 

In 1824 they were visited by William Words- 
worth and some members of his family. The 
following is from the pen of the poet : — 

SONNET 

To Lndij Uleanor Butler and flie Hon. Miss Ponsonby, 

composed in the grounds of Plds-Neivydd, Llamjollen. 

" A stream to mingle with your favourite Dee 
Alotif^ the Vale of Mcditatiou* Hows ; 
So styleil by those fierce Britons, pleased to see 
On Nature's face the expression of repose ; 

* Glyn Myvyr, 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 325 



Or, baply there some pioua Hermit chose 
To live and die — the peace of Heaven his aim, 
To whom the wUd sequestered region owes 
At this late day its sanctifying name. 
Glyn cyfaillgdrtoch, in the Cambrian tongue, 
In ours the Vale of Friendship, let this spot 
Be named, where faithful to a low-roof'd cot 
On Deva's banks, ye have abode so long : 
Sisters in Love — a love allowed to climb 
Even on this earth, above the reach of Time." 

The foregoing poem was enclosed in the following 
note : — 



" Mr. W. has more than fulfilled his promise, he 
fears at the risk of tiring those whom he wished 
to gratify. This sonnet is a faint expression of 
his feelings on that interesting spot. Mrs. and 
Miss W. join him in respectful regards and sincere 
wishes, in which Mr. Jones unites. 

" Plas-yr-Llan, near Reekin, 
" 4th Sept. 
" The Lady Eleanor Butler, and 
The Honble. Miss Ponsonby, 
Plas-Newydd, 

Llangollen," 

Amongst these MSS. is also a long poem by 
Thomas Campbell, author of " The Pleasures of 
Hope," upon the subject of "The Origin of 
Painting." 

One more letter, and we have done. It is from 



826 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISTIWOMEN. 

the statesman Canning, and is a good example of 
that popular orator's polished style : — 

" Mr. Canning has the honour to apprise the 
Ladies at Llangollen that his daughter looks 
forward to the pleasure of being presented to them 
next week, when Lord Clanricarde carries her to 
her new country. 

"Mr. Canning: wishes that he were to be of 
the party, instead of resuming, as he must do, 
about the same time, the toils of the House of 
Commons. 

" He has, however, a selfish reason for recalling 
himself at this moment to the Ladies' recollection. 
They insisted with him that he should find some 
occasion for profiting by their kind offer of a 
specimen of Llangollen mutton. Now, he knows 
no more worthy occasion likely to occur in the 
whole year than that of tlie celebration of the 
King's Birthday, which takes place on Saturday, 
the 23rd, on which day Mr. Canning entertains 
the Foreign Ministers. 

" He intended therefore to have proved his 
obedience to the Ladies' commands by a message 
through Clanricarde, but as, upon calculation, he 
doubts whether such a message would reach Llan- 
gollen in time, he has resolved upon this mode of 
executing his purpose. 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 327 

" His address is Foreign Office, for mutton as 
well as for letters. 

"Ludbrook, Apr. 13, 1825," 

Thus, of the world — but not in it — despite the 
romantic dreams of youth, these two friends went 
down the hill of life together. In the winter of 
1828, Lady Eleanor Butler caught a severe cold, 
from which she does not seem ever to have com- 
pletely rallied. She fought with death throughout 
the winter n,nd Rj)ring, but as the summer advanced 
her health became worse. She died on the 2nd of 
June, 1829, at the advanced age of ninety years. 
The following inscription was placed upon her 
tomb in the churchyard of Llangollen : — 

■SactEb to W)% iffflletnatg o£ 

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE 
LADY ELEANOR CHARLOTTE BUTLER, 

Late of Piris-Newydd, in this Parish, 

Deceased 2nd June, 1829. 

Aged 90 Years. 

Daugliter of the Sixteenth, Sister of the Seventeenth 

Bauls of Ormonde and Ossort; 

Aunt to the late and to the present 

Marquess of Ormonde. 

Endeared to her friends by an almost unequalled excellence of heart, 
and by manners worthy of her illustrious birth, the admiration 
find delight of a very numerous acquaintance, from a brilliant 
viv;u;iiy of mind, undimmished to the latest period of a prolonged 



328 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

existence. Her amiable condescension and benevolence secured the 
grateful attachment of those by whom they had been so long and so 
extensively experienced. Her various perfections, crowned by the 
most pious and cheerful submission to the Divine Will, can only be 
appreciated where it is humbly believed they are now enjoying their 
Eternal Keward, and by her of whom for more than fifty years they 
constitute that happiness, which through our Blessed lledeemer she 
trusts will be renewed when this Tomb shall have closed over its 
LATEST Tenant. 

"SorrotD not as otfjtrs, tofto f)ai)e no I)ope." 

1 Thess. chap. iv. v. 13. 

In a little more tlian two years that tomb had 
" closed over its latest tenant :" Miss Ponsonby 
died on the 9th of December, 1831, at the age of 
seventy-six. It is thus recorded on the tombstone : — 

SARAH PONSONBY 

DEPARTED THIS LIFE 

On the dtk of December, 18.-51, aged 76. 

She did not long survive her beloved companion, Ladv Ei.eanok 
Butler, with whom she had lived in this valley for more th.'in half 
a century of uninterrupted friendahip. 

"But tbey shall no more return to their house, neitlier shall their place 
know them any more." — Job, chap. vii. v, 10. 

Reader, pause for a moment, and reflect, not on the uncertainty 
of human life, but upon the certainty of its termination, and take 
comfort from the assurance that, " As it is appointed unto men 
once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered 
to bear the sins of many ; and unto them that look for Him shall 
He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation." 

Hed. chap. ix. v. 27, 28, 

On the same tombstone is also the following 
inscription to the memory of their faithful ser- 
vant, who had accompanied " the Ladies" from 
Ireland : — 



THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN. 329 

5n Mtmot^ of 
MRS. MARY CARRYL, 

Deceased 22nd November, 1809. 

Tliis monumcut is erected by Eleanor Butler and Savah Ponsonby, 
of rias-Newvdd, in this Parish. 



Released from earth, and all its transient woes, 
She whoso remains beneath this stone repose, 
Steadfast in faith, resirjned her parting breath, 
Looked up with 'Christian joy, and smiled in death. 
Patient, Industrious, Faithful, Generous, Kind, 
Her conduct left the proudest far behind ; 
Her virtues dignified her humble birth. 
And raised her mind above the sordid earth. 
Attachment (sacred bond of grateful breasts) 
Extinguished but with life, this Tomb attests. 
Beared Ijy Two Friends, who will her loss bemoan, 
Till, with her ashes, Here shall rest their own. 

After the death of Miss Ponsonby, the contents 
of the cottage were sold by auction. The sale 
attracted much attention, from the miscellaneous 
character of the articles. The cottage, wamscoted 
with carved oak, still remains, and is worthy of a 
visit from any pilgrim to the Vale of Llangollen. 




LADY LOUISA CONOLLY, 



Born, a.d. 17-1.2. Died, a.d. 1821. 




AM amazed you did not know that Lord 
Mornington had made his addresses to 
Lady Louisa Lennox," says Mrs. Delany 
in one of her letters, — " young Lady Kildare's 
sister, a pretty girl, about sixteen. He was well 
received, and much encouraged by all the family, 
and no appearance of dislike in the young lady ; 
but before an answer was positively given, Mr. 
ConoUy, with double his fortune (and perhaps 
about half his merit), offered himself, and was 
accepted. The answer to Lord Mornington was, 
that ' the young lady had an insurmountable 
dislike to him.' " 

But Mrs. Delany was wrong in her surmises 
about Lady Louisa's choice. The llight Hon. 
Thomas ConoUy was a most excellent husband, 
and a most estimable man in every relation of life. 
He was one of His Majesty's Privy Councillors, 
and for forty years represented the Co\nity of 
Londonderry. He died at his residence of Castle- 



LADY LOUISA GONOLLY. 331 

town, deeply and sincerely regretted for his public 
and private worth. 

His wife, Lady Louisa ConoUy, was the third 
daughter of Charles, second Duke of Richmond. 
Her two sisters were Lady Kildare, famous for her 
wit and sprightliness, and Lady Sarah Lennox, no 
less celebrated for her beauty. Mrs. Delany calls 
Lady Louisa "a pretty girl," but makes no special 
comment upon her appearance ; and as the ob- 
servant old lady invariably noted anything re- 
markable in the manners or appearance of her 
ac(piaintances, we may take it for granted that 
tlie charms of Lady Sarah eclipsed those of her 
afterwards more famous sister. However, we 
know she was tall, and of a commanding 
presence. 

After the death of her husband, in 1803, Lady 
Louisa Conolly resided almost entuely at Castle- 
town, near Celbridge, the most princely mansion 
in Ireland. Here she devoted herself to the edu- 
cation of the poor, and the general improvement 
of all livmg upon her estate. The Female Charter 
School at Celbridge she took under her especial 
care. It became one of the best female schools in 
Ireland, and has maintained its character until the 
present day. 

Lady Louisa Conolly 's energy of mind and her 
intellectual acquhements were very great. The 



332 ILLUSTRIOUS IllISUWOMEN. 

demesne at Castletown must have been like a 
small town or village of the feudal ages, and Lady 
Louisa the Lady of the Castle. Just within the 
Celbridge entrance to the demesne slie had a 
church erected, with separate sittings for the girls 
of the Charter House School. Extensive brew- 
houses, bakehouses, and buildings of a similar 
nature were within the boundary of the demesne, 
and upon the ruined kennels of her late hus- 
band's hounds she had built the first Industrial 
Schools that ever were in Ireland. 

These schools were Lady Louisa's especial care, 
and were destined for both sexes. For the boys 
there were workshops, having a skilled, practical 
person at the head of each department ; and here 
they were taught carpentry, tailoring, shoemaking, 
basket-making, and other trades, in addition to a 
good practical English education. The girls were 
taught knitting, sewing, laundry-work, bread- 
making, cookery, and other branches of mduatry. 
In the welfare and progress of these schools 
their foundress took a deep interest, and was 
unremitting in her supervision of every de- 
partment. 

In addition to giving up her fortune to purposes 
like the foregoing, she also devoted her intellectual 
acquirements to the needs of her estate ; for Lady 
Louisa Conolly was her own architect. She 



LADY LOUISA CONOLLY. 333 

designed every building that she had erected, not 
considering the very fences and field-gates beneath 
her notice. 

Everything on her property — animal, vegetable, 
or mineral — was cared for well, cultivated to the 
utmost, and worked to the best advantage. More- 
over, all the materials used in all the buildings 
erected by Lady Louisa — sucli as timber, stones, 
bricks, lime, sand, &c. &c. — were all the produce 
of the Castletown estate. As far also as was 
practicable, all the raw material used in the 
Industrial Schools was from home sources. She 
had a personal knowledge of every one employed 
on her estate. Her clear, vigorous intellect 
enabled her to comprehend the details of the 
various branches taught in her schools ; and she 
personally superintended the tradesmen during the 
erection of the various buildings. 

" I have seen her," says one who remembers her 
during the latter years of her life, " directing the 
tradesmen in the erecting of a huge j3ress for ex- 
pressing the oil from beech mast, &c. I remember 
often seeing her pass out of the garden to the 
house, dressed in her usual long, light-grey cloth 
pelisse, or surtout, having huge side pockets, and 
those pockets stuck full of the largest parsnips and 
carrots, their small ends appearing above ; these 
l^eing doubtless for the poor, who were permitted 



334 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

to come to the house two or three times a week 
for food, &c."* 

Lady Louisa Conolly lived a life of charity and 
kindness towards all. She was much heloved and 
looked up to in her wide circle of distinguished 
friends and relatives. Amongst the latter may be 
mentioned her nephews, the gallant Napiers, the 
sons of her sister, Lady Sarah Lennox. 

This wise and good woman was in her eightieth 
year at the time of her death, which took place in 
a tent which she had erected on a grass-plot before 
the house at Castletown. In her last illness slie 
was attended by Sir Philip Crampton, Surgeon- 
General to the Queen in Ireland, the immediate 
cause of her death being an abscess in her hip. 
She died in August, 1821, sincerely beloved and 
deeply regretted by all classes. 



* Extract from a letter written ])j Mark Kelly, an old servant of 
the Conolly family, who haa supplied many of the detaila contained 
in this brief memoir. 




SAIIAII CURRAN. 




ERHAPS you could tell me who that pale 
beauty is ? I have seen her once before." 
** Seen her, and not know her ! She is 
the youngest daughter of John Philpot Curran. " 

In the lovely valley of Glendalough, County of 
Wicklow, the foregoing question was asked by a 
gentleman, and responded to by Miss Lambart, 
the true friend of the ill-fated Sarah CuiTan, the 
betrothed of Robert Emmet. 

A"2^''^l6 beauty." All writers who have men- 
tioned Sarah Curran have concurred in their 
praise of her grace and beauty ; nevertheless, not 
one has given any more definite description of her 
personal attractions. Moreover, there is, unfor- 
tunately, no authentic likeness of her extant, so 
that the reader must finish the portrait as imagi- 
nation suggests. 

" She is kind, she is lovely, and Heaven only 
knows how good 1" exclauned Robert Emmet, in 
all the fervour of his enthusiastic love and pa- 
triotism. " I must make myself worthy of the 



336 ILLUSTRIOUS IBISEWOMEN. 

woman of my choice, and the glory which sheds 
its lustre on the husband shall reflect its splendour 
on the wife !" 

Poor Robert Emmet ! He gave utterance to 
these impassioned words but a few weeks before 
his untimely death. Of all the good men, bad 
men, and great men engaged in national con- 
spiracies in Ireland, not one has acquired by his 
patriotism or his death the flime which, from 
the hour of his rebellion, surrounded and seemed 
to halo the name of Robert Emmet. His rebellion, 
"the miniature rebellion of 1803," was an abor- 
tion, and its failure may be entirely ascribed to 
the religious hatreds wliich the rising of 1798 had 
evoked. His preparations for it were boyish ; he 
was merely the enthusiastic victim of an idea, and 
being from his sensitive and visionary nature 
incapable of organisation on a large scale, he dis- 
covered his mistake in five minutes after the 
firin<r of the three sig-nals in Thomas Street, 
Dublin. But, setting these circumstances aside, 
his youth and his obvious love for Ireland, and 
his ardent and daring love for Sarah Curran, had 
about them all the elements which in all ages 
have sufficed to constitute personal heroism. The 
story of his fate, and the story of his love, 
challenged at first pity, then sympathy, and lastly 
national regard. His friend, Thomas Moore, in 



SABAE OUBBAN. 337 

wedding immortal verse to national song, has 
helped to deify and to render immortal the loves 
of Robert Emmet and Sarah Curran. 

The daughter of John Philpot Curran — who was 
totally opposed to his young countryman in 
politics — at the house of their mutual friend, Mr. 
Lambart, of Castle llath, County of Wicklow, Sarah 
Curranmetwith and loved the gifted young student. 
The attachment was disapproved of by the Curran 
family, and she Avas forbidden to have anything to 
say to the young rebel. But she had given her 
love unreservedly, and though she dared not 
mention her lover's name, she yet remained 
staunch to him. Through the instrumentality of 
then* friend, Miss Lambart, they kept up a secret 
correspondence ; and through evil report and good 
report the heart of Sarah Curran never swerved 
from tlie man she loved. 

The story of her passionate and devoted love 
for Robert Emmet is one of the most pathetic 
love episodes which has ever been recorded. 
Soul-tragedies occur, not mfrequently, but the 
world hears nothing of them, for it is woman's 
nature to prove 

How sublime a thing it is 
To Buffer and be strong. 

Sarah Curran had suffered and had been strong 
in l»er love, but licr frail physique was Jiot proof 

VOL. U. Z 



338 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

against the giief whicli weighed tipon her heart, 
and sapped the foundations of her strength. 
Every instmct of her loving woman's nature was 
so bound up in the soul of her patriot lover 
that — 

Wlien his spirit woniied above. 
Hers coukl not stay for sympatliy. 

After the execution of her lover for high treason, 
Sarah Curran left her father's house. Forbidden 
to mention the name of Kobert Emmet, she found 
the restraint imposed upon her by this mandate 
too much to endure. Moreover, she had tlie 
bitterness of constantly hearing his memory and 
opmions spoken of with contempt and ridicule. It 
was too much for her broken heart, and therefore, 
in company with an elder sister, she one day 
quitted her father's house, and proceeded to Cork, 
on a visit to the family of a Mr. Penrose. Whilst 
staying with this kind Quaker family, slie became 
acquainted witli a Captain Sturgeon, who seems to 
have been a man of singularly rclined and delicate 
feelings. The heart-widowed, friendless situation 
of the poor girl seems to have touched him deeply, 
and, convinced that one so true to the dead love 
could not bat be worth winning, even although 
influenced in her decision merely by esteem, he 
made her an ofter of his hand and heart. 
. Finally she consented to become his wife. Ilobert 



SARAH CURBAN. 339 



Emmet's memory was not forgotten, and its prior 
claim on her heart was fully recognised by the 
friend and protector who had assumed a husband's 
title, and proved the generosity of his nature in 
his loving protection of her. 

In the Hibernian Afagazine for February, 1804, 
the marriage was announced in the following 
terms : — 

" At Cork, Captain K H. Sturgeon, of the 
Ivoyal Staff Corps, and nephew of the late Marquis 
of rtockiiigham, to Miss Sarah Curran, daughter 
of J. P. Curran." 

Under the title of "The Broken Heart," 
Washington Irving gives an exquisitely pathetic 
sketch of the love of Sarah Curran for " young 
E , the Irish j^atriot." He says : — 

" She loved him witli the dishiterested fervour 
of a woman's first and early love. When every 
worldly maxim arrayed itself against him ; when 
blasted in fortune ; when disgrace and danger 
darkened around his name — she loved him the 
more ardently for his very sufferings. If, then, 
his fate could awaken the s^'mpathy even of his 
foes, what must have been the agony of her whose 
whole soul was occupied by his image ! Let those 
tell who have had the portals of the tomb suddenly 
closed between them and the being they most 
loved on earth — who have sat at its threshold, as 

z 2 



340 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

one shut out in a cold and lonely world, from 
whence all that was most loving and lovely had 
departed. 

"But then the horrors of such a grave! so 
frightful ! so dishonoured ! There was nothing 
for memory to dwell on that could soothe the 
pang of separation — none of those tender, though 
melancholy, circumstances that endear the parting 
scene — nothinof to melt sorrow into those blessed 
tears, sent, like the dews of heaven, to revive the 
heart in the parting hour of anguish. 

*' To render her heart- widowed situation more 
desolate, she had incurred her father's displeasure 
by her unfortunate attachment, and was an exile 
from tlie paternal roof. But could the sympatliy 
and kind offices of friends have readied a spirit so 
shocked and driven in by horror, she would have 
experienced no want of consolation, for the Irish 
. are a people of quick and generous sensibilities. 
The most delicate and cherishing attentions were 
paid to her by families of wealtli and distinction. 
She was led into society, and they tried by all 
kinds of occupation and amusement to dissipate 
her grief, and wean her from the tragical stoiy of 
her love. But it was all in vain. There are some 
strokes of calamity that scathe and scorch the 
soul — that penetrate to the vital seat of happiness, 
and blast it, never again to put forth bud or 



SABAH GUliBAN. 341 

blossom. She did not object to frequent the haunts 
of pleasure, but she was as much alone there as in 
the depths of solitude. She walked about in a 
sad reverie, apparently unconscious of the world 
around her. She carried with her an inward woe 
that mocked at all the blandishments of friendship, 
and ' heeded not the song of the charmer, charm 
he never so wisely.' 

" The person who told me her story had seen 
her at the masquerade. There can be no exhibi- 
tion of far-gone wretchedness more striking and 
painful than to meet it in such a scene. To find 
it wandering like a spectre, lonely and joyless, 
where all around is gay^ — to see it dressed out in 
the trappings of mirth, and looking so wan and 
wobegone, as if it had tried in vain to cheat the 
poor heart into a momentary forgetfulness of sor- 
row ! After strolling through the splendid rooms 
and giddy crowd with an air of utter abstraction, 
she sat herself down upon the steps of an orches- 
tra, and lookmg about for some time with a vacant 
air, that showed her insensibility to the garish 
scene, she began, with the capriciousness of a sickly 
heart, to warble a httle plamtive air. She had 
an exquisite voice ; but on this occasion it was so 
simple, so touching, it breathed forth such a soul 
of wretchedness, that she drew a crowd mute and 
silent aiound her, and melted every one into tears. 



342 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

" The story of one so tiiie and tender could not 
but excite great interest in a country remarkable 
for enthusiasm. It completely won the heart 
of a brave officer, wlio paid his addresses to her, 
and thought that one so true to the dead could 
not but prove afiectionate to the living. She 
declined his attentions, for her thoughts were 
irrevocably engrossed by the memory of her 
former lover. He, however, persisted in his suit. 
He solicited not her tendei"ness, but her esteem. 
He was assisted by her conviction of his worth, 
and her sense of her own destitute and dependent 
situation ; for she was existing on the kindness of 
friends. In a word, he at length succeeded in 
gaining her hand, thougli witli a solemn assurance 
that her heart was unalterably anothei's. 

" He took her with him to Sicily, hoping that a 
change of scene might wear out the remembrance 
of early woes. She was an amiable and exemplary 
wife, and made an effi)rt to be a happy one ; but 
nothing could cure the silent and devouring melan- 
choly that had entered into her very soul. She 
wasted away in a slow but hopeless decline, and 
at length sank into the grave, the victim of a 
broken heart." 

Sarah Curran was the subject of the following 
lines, composed by Thomas Moore, the friend of 
her patriot lover : — 



8ABAE CUEBAN. 343 



She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps, 

And lovers around her are sighing ; 
But coldly she turns from their gaze, and weeps, 

For her heart in his grave is lying. 

She sings the wild songs of her dear native plains, 

Every note which he loved awaking : 
Ah ! little they think, who delight in her strains. 

How the heart of the minstrel is breaking. 

lie had lived for his love, for his country he died, 
They were all that to life had entwined him ; 

Nor soon shall the tears of his country be dried, 
Nor long will his love stay behind him ! 

Oh ! make her a grave where the sunbeams rest, 

Where they promise a golden morrow ; 
They'll shine o'er her plcc]), like a smile from the west, 

From her own loved island of sorrow. 

Ill the life of George Petrie — the eminent Irish 
antiquary — by Dr. W. J. Stokes, the following 
touching incident is related : — 

" Petrie's father, though a loyalist, was on 
friendly terms with many of the prominent 
patriots whose portraits he painted ; and after the 
execution of Emmet he was requested to paint a 
portrait of liim from memoiy, with the aid of such 
studies of the head and face as he had by liim. 
One day, just as the portrait was finished, Petrie 
— then a little boy — was sitting in a corner of the 
room, when he saw a lady, thickly veiled, enter 
and walk straight to the easel on which the work 
rested. She did not notice the child, and thought 
hei'self alone. She lifted her veil, stood long and 



2U ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

in unbroken stillness gazing at the face ; then 
suddenly turning, she moved with an unsteady 
step to another corner of the room, and, bending 
forward, pressed her forehead against the wall, 
heaving deep sobs, her whole frame shaken with a 
storm of passionate grief How long this agony 
lasted the boy could not tell ; it appeared to him 
to be an hour ; and then, with a sudden effort, she 
controlled herself, pulled down her veil, and as 
quickly and silently left the room as she had come 
into it." 

It is almost needless to add that the veiled lady 
was Sarah Curran. 




POSTSCRIPT. 



N recording these few brief memorials of 
noted Irishwomen, it will have been seen 
that I have quoted largely in many 
instances. I considered it better to do so, pre- 
ferrmg to give generally accepted and valuable 
tested criticisms, with which I agree, rather than 
tlie same sentiments embodied in my own words. 
In every particular, where it has been at all prac- 
ticable, original documents have been consulted. 
Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind, that my 
information in the majority of cases has been de- 
rived from so many varied sources, and so devious 
have been my wanderings through literature in 
search of it, that it would be impossible for me to 
enumerate all the works I have referred to. Some 
of the details may appear to be scant, yet these 
volumes represent the result of some years of 
reading. For the satisfaction of those who may 
wish to pursue the subject further, I subjoin a list 
of a few of the chief authorities consulted : — 



346 illusthious irishwomen. 

Manuscripts and documents in the Library of the 

Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street, Dublin. 
Documents in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. 
Original letters, and files of manuscript playbills, in 

Manuscript Room, British Museum Library. 
The Lives of the Saints. 
Annals of the Four Masters. 
O'Curry's Materials. 
O'Flaherty's Ogygia. 
Keating's History of L'eland. 
Miss Cusack's History of Ireland. 
Ryland^s History of Waterford. 
Histories of England. 
O'llart's Irish Pedigrees. 
Strype's Ecclesiastical History. 
Ware's Annals. 

Kilkenny Archaeological Journal. 
Sir William Wilde's Catalogue of the Royal Irish 

Acadeiny. 
Sir Bernard Burke's Vicissitudes of Families, and 

other works by the same writer. 
Earls of Kildare. 
Encyclopsedia Britannica. 
Anthologia Hibernica. 
Notes and Queries. 
Men of the Time. 
Ryan's Irish Worthies. 
The Quarterly Review. 
The Edinburgh Review. 
American Review. 
Annual Register. 
Blackwood's Magazine. 
The Gentleman's Magazine. 
The European Magazine. 
Macmillan's Magazine. 



POSTSCRIPT. 347 



The Scots' Magazine. 

Dublin University Magazine. 

The Aualectic Magazine. 

Frazer's Magazine. 

Irish Penny Journal. 

The Irish Register. 

Ilhistrated London News. 

The Ncwry Magazine. 

Liddcll's Living Age. 

American Monthly Review. 

American Quarterly Register. 

Bolster^s Cork Magazine. 

The Critic. 

The Examiner. 

The Athenaeum. 

The Times. 

Dublin Freeman's Journal. 

The Dublin Advertiser, and files of other Dublin 

papers. 
History of Irish Biograpliical Literature. 
Wills's Lives of Celebrated Irishmen. 
P. Fitzgerald's Life of Garrick. 

„ ,, Lives of the Kembles. 

„ ,, Romance of the English Stage. 
Arthur Murphy's Life of Garrick. 
The Dramatic Censor. 
Geneste's History of the Stage. 
Hitchcock's View of the Irish Stage. 
Chetwood's History of the Stage. 
The Kilkenny Theatre. 
O'Keefe's Recollections. 
Boaden's Memoirs. 
Tate Wilkinson's Memoirs. 
George Anne Bellamy's Memoirs. 
Mrs. Robinson's Memoirs. 



348 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Mrs. Mary Delany's Memoirs. 

Miss Berry's Journal. 

Pepys' Diary. 

Thomas Moore's Memoirs. Edited by Lord John 

Russell. 
Evelyn's Diary. 

Horace Walpole's Diary and Correspondence. 
Life and Correspondence of Sir Joshua Reynolds. 
George Selwyn's Diary and Correspondence. 
Lockhart's Life of Scott. 
Thomas Moore's Life of Byron. 
Lady Blessington's Conversations with Lord Byron. 
Ballard's Lives. 
Hale's Record of Woman. 
Allan Cunningham's Biographical Notes. 
Prescott's Biographical Miscellanies. 
Doctor Doran's " Their Majesties' Servants/' and other 

works by the same author. 
Brookiana. 

Brooke's Reliques of Irish Poetry. 
Life of R. L. Edgeworth. 
Queens of Song, By Ellen Clayton. 
Diary and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Rol)insou. 
Griswold's Female Poets. 
Rowton's Cyclopaedia. 
R. D. Home's " New Spirit of the Age." 
F. T.. Porter's " Gleanings." 
Novels and Novelists. J. C. Jeaffreson. 
Friends and Foes of Lady Morgan. 
Memoirs and Correspondence of Lady Morgan. 
Diary of Lady Morgan. 
S. C. Hall's Memories. 

Poets and Dramatists of Ireland, by D. F. MacCarthy. 
Alibone's Biographical Dictionary. 
Obituary of Eminent Persons. 



P08TSGEIPT. 349 



The Georgian Era. 

Poolers Index to Periodical Literature. 

"Works of G, and P. Wharton, 

Broadsides and tracts in British Museum Library. 

From other sources — chiefly private — much of 
my information has been gleaned. I regret very 
much that it was not until the first volume of the 
work had gone to press that I was able to obtain 
the necessary information respecting Gormflaith, or 
Gormley, a famous ancient Irish queen. The 
reader who feels an interest in her fortunes cannot 
do better than procure Mr. W. H. Hennessy s 
notice of this remarkable woman. The memoir 
was published in the Hibernian Magazine, about 
18G3. The daughter of a king, the sister, wife, 
and mother of kmgs, Gormflaith went through 
many vicissitudes, until she at length begged her 
bread from door to door. 

That which I have chosen to call the " Mediaeval 
Period" is comparatively barren of material for 
biographies of women. A reason for this may be 
found in the unsettled state of Ireland at that 
time. Few records were kept, save what related 
to the much-vexed question of government. 
Under the Brehon laws, women enjoyed many 
privileges, and were considered of far more impor- 
tance than under the English rule ; so, as political 
matters form the staple of records relating to tlie 



350 ILLUSTRIOUS IRISHWOMEN. 

Ireland of this period, we find little concerning 
Irishwomen, save in a very few instances, where 
they have been directly associated with the 
government, as in the cases of the Countess of 
Desmond and Grace O'Mailly. 

Ireland has given to the British stage its chief 
comedy actresses. The vivacity and versatility of 
the Celtic temperament, comhined with that dash 
of pathos just sufficient to show up all the more 
sparkling qualities — attributes which constitute 
in themselves the very essence of comedy — Iiave 
seldom been found in greater perfection than in 
the characters of the Irish actresses enumerated in 
this book. Tragedy has not been so well repre- 
sented by them. Some of the comedy actresses 
have essayed it, but none have excelled in both 
departments. The grand and gloomy Sarah 
Siddons has never had a paiullel amongst Irish 
actresses. Maria Pope was the only one of our 
countrywomen who successfully wore the mantle 
of tragedy ; but death claimed her before her 
splendid talents were fully matured. Miss O'Neill 
also claims a high place amongst ti-agic actresses, 
but neither attained to the level of the great 
daiighter of the Kembles. 

Amongst Irishwomen, British literature has 
found some of its best rejjresentatives. The 
historical novel and the romantic novel both owe 



POSTSCRIPT. 351 



tlieir origin to Irishwomen. Maria Edgeworth 
inspired Sir Walter Scott with a desire to do for 
the literature of his country what she was doing 
for hers, in painting its manners, customs, and 
abuses. On the other hand, Jane Porter, in her 
historical romances of " The Scottish Chiefs" and 
" Thaddeus of Warsaw," gave the Scottish novehst 
the idea of utilising the legends of war and love 
with which his brain was stored, and of weaving 
them into the world-famed Waverley Novels. Sir 
Walter Scott always generously acknowledged his 
()l)ligations to these two Irisluvomen. Tlie Byron 
of her sex, Lady Stirliug-Maxwell {Hon. Mrs. 
Norton) takes the highest rank amongst female 
poets ; whilst the career of Lady Morgan affords a 
strikijig example of combined talent and perse- 
verance, of which the women of any nation might 
feel proud. 

The unpublished poem by William Wordsworth, 
which had been announced to appear in the 
memoii" of "The Ladies of Llangollen," I have 
been unfortunately obliged to omit at tlie dicta- 
tion of Mr. William Wordsworth, the son of the 
poet, who forbids the publication of any hitherto 
unpubhshed poem by his father. 

In the hope that this book may prove useful as 
a work of reference, I have prefixed a copious 
index to each volume. 



INDEX 



THE SECOND VOLUME. 



{The names of Plays are printed in Italics.) 



A BERCORN, Lady, 179, 183 
""- Acaderay, Royal Irish, 43, 44 
Aldwoitli, Mrs., 270, 280 
Aldworth, Richard, 275, 276 
Ahnacks, 98 
Alteuberg, Count, 86 
Amiens, Peace of, 84 
Anglas, Boissy d', 84 
Annual Register, 228 
Anthologia Hibernica, 49 
Antrim Militia, 311 
Arab's Farewell to his Horse, the, 257 
Archer and Jones, 47 
Argyle, Duke of, 288 
Argyle, Duchess of, 289, 290 
Alhenreum, the, 190, 191, 242, 263, 

206 
Autumn, 249 



T)AILLIE, Joanna, 126, 150 

-*-' Ballantyne, James, 100 

Ballard, — , 25 

Barbauld, Mrs., 146 

Barber, Mrs., 24 

Barker, Sir William, 304 

Barrett, Miss, 261 

Barriugton, 280 

Beattie, Dr. William, 212 

Beaufort, Admiral Sir Francis, 77 

Beaufort, Miss, 77 

Beauty, Queen of, 288 

Beck, 306 



Behn, Aphra, 4, 9, 15, 19 

Bellamy, George Anne, 280, 282, 284 

Bcntley, Dr., 70 

Berkeley, Earl of, 66 

Berry, Miss, 281 

Bessborough, Lord, 293, 316 

Best, Mrs., 303 

Bethel, Counsellor, 188 

Blachford, Mary, 52, 53, 55 

Blachford, Rev. William, 62 

Blachford, Theodosia, 52 

Blackwood, Captain, 233 

Blackwood's Magazine, 121 

Blandford, Lord, 281 

Blandy, Miss, 285 

Blessington, Countess of, 198, 224 

Blessington, Earl of, 201, 203, 205, 207, 

208, 210 
Blunt, Miss, 306, 307 
Borris, 294, 298, 303 
Bowers, Mr., 306, 308 
Bowles, Caroline, 126 
Boyle, Charles (Earl of Orrery), 70 
Boyle, Henrietta, 70, 72 
Boyle, Mary, 64, 69 
Boyle and Bentley Controversy, 70 
Brehon Laws, 349 
Bridgewater, Duke of, 288 
Britain Street, 282 
British Critic, 81 
British Museum, 228 
British Stage, 349 
Brooke, Arthur, 28 



VOL. II. 



A A 



854 



INDEX. 



Brooke, Captain, 44 

Brooke, Charlotte, 27, 51 

Brooke, Henry, 27, 28, 29, 33 

Browne, Felicia Dorothea, 109, 114 

Browne, Mr. and Mrs., 48 

Browne, Mr., 109, 110 

Browne, Mrs., 110, 113 

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 57 

Browning, Mrs., 261 

Brownrigg, General, 176 

Buccleuch, Duke of, 212 

Buck, Miss, 163 

Buckingham, Duke of, 12 

Buckingham, Lord, 315 

Buckingham, James Silk, 190 

Budgel], 8 

Buller, Mrs. Richard, 106 

Burke, 100 

Burke, Edmund, 229, 316, 319 

Burke, Mrs., 319 

Burke, Theobald, 282 

Burney, Miss, 166 

Burton, 306, 308 

Butler, Lady Eleanor Charlotte, 291, 292, 
293, 294, 295, 298, 301, 302, 303, 
304, 305, 309, 322, 323, 327, 328 

Butler, Mrs., 304 

Butler, Tom, 307, 808, 309 

Byron, Lord, 74, 97, 186, 204 



pALLANDER, Colonel, 239 

^ Callander, Lady Elizabeth, 239 

Cambridge University, 6 

Campbell, John, 288 

Campbell, Thomas, 325 

Canning, Mr., 201, 326 

Canterbury, Viscountess, 199 

Carlow, 303 

Caroline, Princess of Wales, 1 7 

Carrol, 7 

Carryl, Mrs. Mary, 329 

Carteret, Lord, 25 

" Carwell," 237 

Castlereagh, 201 

Castletown, 330, 332, 333, 334 

Castle Coote, 282 

Catholic Emancipation, 189, 192 

Cavan Militia, 314 

Celbridge, 331, 332 

Centlivre, Joseph, 8 

Centlivre, Susanna, 3, 15, 27 

Charlemont, Earl of, 44, 60 



Charles XL, 76 

Charlotte, Princess, 289, 290 

Charter School, Female, 331, 332 

Cherry, 160 

Christian, of Luneberg, Duke, 150 

Gibber, CoUey, 4 

City, 230 

Claiiricarde, Lord, 326 

Clarke, Dr. Sir Arthur, 177 

Clarke, Lady, 184 

Clenard, 35 

Clockiiaben, Dowager Countess of, 267 

Golburn, 185, 186, 187, 190, 191 

Comerford, 62 

Commons, House of, 17, 98, 326 

Congreve, 13 

Couolly, Lady Louisa, 330, 331, 332, 

333, 334 
Conolly, Mr., 330 
Coote, 282 
Cork, 331 

Cork, First Earl of, 64, 65 
Cork, John, Earl of, 70 
Cork, Lady, 187 
Cork and Orrery, House of, 70 
Cornwall, Barry, 221 
Cornwallis, Lord, 312 
Cossack, the, 74 
Cotton, 98 
County Meath, 31 1 
County Wicklow, 311, 312 
Court, the, 8, 67, 76 
Court of Denmark, 17 
Court of Dublin, Viceregal, 53 
Coventry, Earl of, 285 
Coventry, Lady, 285, 286, 287, 288 
Covington, Circuit Court, 216 
Cowper, Hon. Charles Speucer, 201 
Cow per. Lady, 98 
Cramptou, Sir Philip, 334 
Crawford, Mrs., 171 
"Critic," 264 

Croker (Quarterly Review), 185 
Crossley, Francis, 171 
Crystal Palace, 264 
Cunningham, Allan, 150 
Curran Family, 337 
Curran, John Philpot, 335 
Curran, Sarah, 336, 336, 337, 338, 339, 

342, 344 



D 



AILY NEWS, the, 215 
Dandies' Rout, 232, 246 



INDEX. 



355 



Darnley, Lord, 52 

D'Aubray, Aladame, 86 

Davy, Lady, 74 

Davy, Sir Humphrey, 74, 98 

Debt of Ifonour, the, 226 

Do Foe, 151 

Dclauy, Mary, 285, 287, 330, 331 

Dcrmody, Thomas, IGO, 161, 162 

Desmond, Ooniitcss of, 319 

Devonsliire, Duchess of, 287 

Devonsliire, Lord, 65 

D'FL)udutot, Sophie, 84, 85 

D'Israeli, 225 

D" Israeli, the Elder, 228 

Dick, Qiienfciii, 172 

Dickens, Charles, 212 

Dilke, Wentwortli, 190 

Dixon, William Hepworth, 169, 180 

Doddridge, Dr., 43 

Dodsley, 229 

Dominick Doubleface, 226 

Dominick Street, 293, 300 

Doneraile, Lord, 276 

Doueraile House, 276 

D'Orsay, Count, 201, 203, 205, 207, 

210, 216, 217, 220, 221 
D'Orsay, Countess, 210 
Dream, the, 252, 254 
Down and Connor, IJishop of, 75 
Dublin, 299, 313, 336 
Dublin, Day of, 237 
Dublin Castle, 284 
Dublin Masonic Orphan Schools, 280 
Dublin I'lvening Tost, 279 
Dublin, Viceregal Court of, 63 
Dublin Weekly' Oracle, 279 
Dunioul, 95 
Dungarvan, Charles, Viscount, 70 



"T^"^ OGLES, Mrs., 312 

■^ Edelcrantz, Chevalier, 80 

Eden, Sir Frederick, 147 

Edgeworth, Edward, 75 

Edgeworth, Francis, 75 

Ed2;eworth, Lady, 75, 76 

Edgeworth, Maria, 73, 107, 127, 350 

Edgeworth, Mrs., 8 4 

Edgeworth, Richard Lovell, 73, 7G, 78, 

70, 84, G3 
Edgeworth, Abbe, 95 
Edgeworth, the Mi.sses, 84, 96, 98 
Edinburgh Uoviow, 124 



Elers, Miss, 76 

Elers, Paul, 76 

Elizabeth, Queen, 75 

EUice, Edward, 243 

Elwood, Mrs., 148 

IClphin, liishop of, 303 

Emmet, Robert, 335, 336, 337, 338 

England, 314 

England, Queen of, 290 

Enniscorthy, 314 

Erskiue, 202 

Ettrick Shepherd, the, 123 

Eustace, Mrs., 303 

Everard, Richard, 174 

Examiner, 264 



"HIARMER, Captain, 200 

-^ Farmer, Mrs., 201 

Farquhar, 8 

Featherstone, Mrs., 164, 168, 170 

Firmont, I'Abbe de, 96 

Fielding, 11 

Fitzpatrick, 74 

Flaxinan, 63 

Fletcher, Mrs., 126 

Forrester, Miss, 213 

Foundling Hospital, 85 

Fownes, Lady Betty, 293, 294, 295, 297, 

298, 300 
Fownes, Sir William, 293, 300, 301, 302, 

304 
Fox, 100 
Fox, Mr. 7 
Fox, Sir Stephen, 7 
France, 292 
F razor's Magazine, 154 
Freeman, Susanna, 6 
Froissart, 228 
Fry, Mrs., 98 



p ARDINER, Lady Harriet Frances, 

^201, 206 

Garrick, 280, 284 

Garrick, David, 30, 31 

Garrick, Mrs., 291 

Geidis, Madame de, 80, 84 

George IV., 150 

Gilford, Countess of, 232, 233, 235, 

238 
Gilford, Earl of, 233 
Ulendalough, 335 



356 



INDEX. 



Glorvina (see Owenson, Sydney, or Mor- 
gan, Lady) 

Glynmouth, 313 

Goddard, Mrs., 292, 295, 299, 300, 301, 
302 

Goethe, 270 

Good Hope, Cape of, 232 

Gormflaith, 248, 349 

Grammont, Due de, 203 

Grant, Anne, 126 

Grantley, Lord, 240 

Grattan, Lady Laura. 52 

Grierson, Constautia, 22, 26, 27 

Grierson, George, 23 

Guarini, 20 

Gunning, Elizabeth, 281, 282, 287 

Gunning, General, 286, 288 

Gunniugiad, 287 

Gunning, John, 282 

Gunning, Maria, 282, 284, 286 

Gunning, Mrs., 283, 284 

Gunnings, Beautiful, 284, 289 

Gushington, Hon. Seliua, 238 

Gustavus, Vasa {see Brooke, Henry) 

Gwydir, Lady, 98 



HALL, Bishop, 67, 164 
Hall, S. C, 222 
Hall, Mrs. S. C, 105, 115 
Hamilton, C. W., 292 
Hamilton, Duke of, 285 
Hamilton, Duchess of, 288 
Hamilton, Mrs., 48 
Hammond, Anthony, 6, 7 
Hampton Court, 232, 239 
Ham's, 309 
Hamwood, 292 
Harmonia, Lady, 66 
Harris, of Cuvciit Garden, 292 
Hayes, John, 275 
Heber, Reginald, 124, 125 
Hemans, Captain, 114, 115, 116, 117 
Hemans, Felicia Dorothea, 108, 142 
Hemans, Mrs., 257, 261 
Henry VIII., 228 
Ilennessy, W. II., 848 
Hermit of Snowdon, 229 
Hibernian Magazine, 339, 348 
Hickson, Mr., 307 
Highland Society, the, 122 
Hill, Dr., 48 
Hill, Miss, 156 



Hogg, James, 247 

Holcroft, Mrs., 269 

Hope, Mrs. 98 

Home, R. D., 261 

House of Commons, 17, 98, 326 

Howitt, Mary, 126 



INDUSTRIAL School, 332, 333 

*■ luislioguo, 309 

Ireland, 315, 328, 331, 332, 349 

Ireland, King's I'linter in, 25 

Ireland, Lord Lieutenant of, 25, 53, 183 

Irish Academy, Royal, 43, 44 

Irish rarliameiit, 53, 55 

Irish Rebellion, 310 

Irving, Washington, 339 

Islington, 228 

Italian Opera, 302 



JEFFRIES, Miss, 285 

•J Jetfrey (Quarterly IJeview), 89 

Jewsbury, Miss, 126 

John Bull, 262 

Jones, Mr. 324 

Junes, Sir William, 36 

Jordan, Camille, 84 



KAUFFMANN, Angelica, 148 
Katie's Letter, 237 
Kavauagh, Mia., 294 
Keau, Charles, 151 
Kemble, 202 
Kenny, 269 
Kentucky, 245 
Kildare, Lady, 330, 331 
Kilkenny, 292, 293, 300, 304, 307, 313 
King's Printer in Ireland, 25 
Kosciusko, 84, 149 



T A DIES of Llangollen, the, 291, 326, 

J^ 351 

Lady of I.a Qaraye, the, -56 

La Ilarpe, 81 

Lauibari, Miss, 335, 337 

Lambart, Mr., 337 

Lament of the Irish Emigrant, the, 234, 

237 
Landon, Letitia Elizabeth, 140 



INDEX. 



357 



Landor, Walter Savage, 221, 222 

Lawrence, Sir Thomas, 179, 202 

Lefann, Mrs., 182 

Lennox, Lady Louisa, 330, 334 

Lennox, Sarah, 331 

Leopold, H.ll.H. Prince, 146 

Lispingg from Low Latitudes, 238 

Literary Gazette, 100 

Llangollen, 291, 300, 309, 310, 310, 

322, 323, 324, 327 
Llangollen, Cottage of, 291 
Llangollen, Vale of, 329 
Lockiiart, J. G., 248, 254, 25G 
Londonderry, County of, 330 
Londonderry, Lady, 99 
Londonderry, Lord, 99 
Long, Mr., 307 
Longmans, Messrs., 179 
Lord Berner's Version, 228, 229 
Lord Lieut, of Ireland, 25, 53, 183 
Lost and Saved, 265, 266 
Lushinston, 269 
Luttrcli, 90 
Lyons, Co]., 304 
Lysaght, Edward, 158 



M'KENZIE (Printer), 47 
M.icklin, Miss, 14 
MacOwen (see Owenison) 
Madden, Dr., 203, 218 
Magazine, Gentleman's, 230 
Magazine, New Monthly, 134, 191, 211, 

222, 223, 247 
Magdalen, 302 
Ma relict, Abbd, 84 
Mathews, Charles, 322, 323 
Mathews, Charles, Sen., 202 
Mathews, Charles, .Tun., 203, 204 
Mayo, Viscount, 282, 283 
Meares, Miss, 27 
"Mediaev.al Period," 349 
IMedows, Mrs., 302, 306 
Mcliiourne, Lord, 242, 243, 270 
Milford Haven, 309 
Milman, 125 
Wilton, 437 
Mitford, Mary, 126 
Molesworth, Cliarlotta Amelia, 18 
Molesworth, Mary, 16 
Molesworth, Robert, Viscount, 16, 17, 18 
Moliero, 11 

Monk, Henry Stanley, 21 



Monk, Hon. Mrs., 16, 21, 27 

Monk, George, 16 

Monk, Sarah, 21 

Montague, Mrs., 291 

Montmorenci, 84 

Moore, Thomas, 61, 75, 76, 97, 164, 

185, 188, 213, 342 
More, Mrs. Hannah, 146 
More, Sir Thomas, 161 
Morgan, Sydney, Lady, 156 
Morgan, Dr. Sir Charles, 181, 182, 183, 

184, 191, 194 
Morning Chronicle, 106 
Morningtou, Lady, 315 
Mornington, Lord, 330 
Mountjoy, Lord, 205 
Moxon, 269 
Murphy, 314 
Murray, Captain, 200 



IVTAAS, 303 

^^ Napiers, 334 

Napoleon, Louis, 219 

National Assembly, Letters to the, 228 

New Monthly Magazine, the, 134, 191, 

211, 222, 223, 247 
Ncwcomens, 302 
Newmarket, 375 
Normanby, Lord, 96 
Norton, Hon. George Chappie, 240 
Norton, Hon. Mrs., 232, 233, 239, 241, 

243, 245, 26r, 262, 264, 270, 271 
Norton, Mr., 242, 243, 246 
Norris, Sam, 244, 245, 246 



A'BRIENS, 303 
^ O'Connell, the, 187, 188, 191 
Old Sir Douglas, 266 
O'Mailly, Grace, 349 
O'Meara, J., 188 
O'Neil, John, 70 
O'Neil, Lady, 70, 72 
Orraond, Earl of, 292 
Ormsby, Sir Charles, 178 
Orrery, Earl of, 70 
Orrery, House of Cork and, 70 
Oswestry, 322 
Owenson, Mrs., 162 

Owenson, Olivia, 162, 176, 177, 178, 
195 



358 



INDEX. 



Owenson, Robert, 166, 158, 160, 161, 

162, 176 
Owenson, Sydney (Lady Morgan), 60, 

156, 197 



pALMERSTON, Lady, 98. . 

^ Palmerston, Lord, 201 ^ 

Prris, 292 

Park, Mr., 304, 306 

Parliament, IrisJi, 53, 65 

Patton, Mr., 244, 245 

Penrose, Mr., 338 

Percy, Caroline, 86 

Petersham, Lady Caroline, 287 

Petrie, George, 343 

Phillips, Sir Richard, 171, 172, 173, 

178, 180 
Pitt, Mr., 173 
Pleasures of Hope, the, 325 
Pons, Miss, 305 
Ponsonby, Cliambre, 293 
Ponsonby, Miss Sarah, 291, 292, 293, 

294, 297, 298, 300, 301, 302, 303, 

304, 309, 310, 312, 316, 322, 323, 

328, 329 
Pope, Maria, 350 
Porkington, 323 
Porter, Anna Maria, 143, 149 
Porter, Dr., 152. 155 
Porter, Jane, 350 
Porter, Mrs., 143, 144. 146, 147 
Porter, Robert Ker, 147, 152 
Porter, the Misses, 143, 155 
Power, Edmund, 198, 200 
Power, Marguerite, 199, 200 
Power, Mary Ann, 203 
Power, Robert, 201 
Priory Gardens, 286 
Pritchard, Mrs., 99 
Prude, the, 225 
Psyche (aee Tighe, Mrs. Mary) 



QUARTERLY REVIEW, 89, 94, 95, 
179, 184, 185, 186, 190 
Queen, ILM. the, 152, 153 
Queen Mary, 226 



-DADCLIFFE'S, 303 
-*-'• lianelagh Gardens, 53 
Rath Castle, 337 



Rathdrum, 313 

Recainier, Madam, 84 

Recollections of a Faded Beauty, the, 257 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 100, 148, 285, 
287, 288 

Rich, 10 

Rich, Charles (afterwards Earl of War- 
wick), 64, 65 

Richards, Mrs., 314 

Richmond, Duke of, 178, 183, 286, 331 

Robinson, Henry Crabb, 268 

Rochfort, Mrs., 302, 303 

Rockingham, Marquis of, 339 

Rogers, 268, 269 

Rogers's, 96 

Romney, 52 

Rosuuna, 313 

Rousseau, 85 

liowo, 8 

Royal Oak, 303 

Royal Family, the, 146 

Royal Irish Academy, 43, 44 

Ruler of the Islands, 247 

Russell, Lord, 202 

Rutland, Duchess of, 98 

Ryves, Miss, 225, 226, 227, 229, 230, 
231 

Ryves, Jerome, D.D., 225 



OT. GEORGE, Lady, 60 

^ St. James, 290 

St. Joachim, Order of, 149 

St. Leger, Hon. Elizabeth, 275, 270, 277, 

278, 279 
St. Leger, Plight Hon. Arthur, 275 
St. Marsault, Countess de, 199 
St. Patrick's Rail, 53 
St, Patrick's Cathedral, 133, 158, 169 
St. Valentine's Day, 285 
Saturday Review, 265, 267 
School fur Scandal, 303 
Scott, Sir Walter, 97, 100, 101, 102, 

101, 125, 127, 141, 151, 154, 350 
Scottish Chiefs, the, 350 
Segur, Comto et Comtcsso de, 84 
Siiarpe, 90 
Slieeley, Miss, 199 
Sheridan, Caroline, 241 
Sheridan, Helen Seliua, 232, 233 
Sheridan, C. E. S., 239, 240 
Sheridan, Mrs. Thomas, 237 
Sheridan, Thomas, 232 



INDEX. 



359 



Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 11, 12, 31, 

93, 99, ]00 
Shuldham, Lord, 306 
Sicily, 342 

Slddons, Mrs., 75, 99 
Siddous, Sarah, 350 
Sierra Leone, 263 
Smith, Mrs. Charlotte, 70 
Sneyd, Elizabeth, 77 
Sneyd, Honora, 77 
Social Compact, 228 
Somerset, Duchess of, 233, 239 
Sonnet, 324 
Sjiedding, 219 
Spencer, Edmnnd, 5G 
Speranza (see Lady Wilde) 
Spring, 249 

Stael, Madame do, 74, 96 
StaTihope, Lcycester, 243, 
Steele, Sir Richard, 8 
Stirling-Maxwell, Lady, 239, 241, 246, 

247, 248, 252, 256, 257, 259, 261, 

262, 265, 266, 267, 268, 270, 271, 

.350 
Stirling-Maxwell, Sir "William, 271 
Stock-dale and Miller, 180 
Stokes, Dr. W. J ., 243 
Store Street, 230 
Stuart of Duuleath, 263, 266 
Sturgeon, Captain, 338, 339 
Suard, 84 
Summer, 249 

Sutherland, Duchess of, 252 
Swift, Dean, 20, 27, 83 



m , Miss, 41, 46 

-*- Tasso, 20 

Taylor, Mrs., 306 

Teddington, 289 

Tennyson, 269 

Terence's Farewell, 263 

Thaddeus of Warsaw, 350 

Thackeray, W. M., 217 

Theatre, Smock Alley, 279 

Theatre, Aungier Street, 279 

The Arab's Farewell to his Horse, 257 

The Bay of Dublin, 237 

The Blind Man to his Bride, 259 

The Child of Earth, 259 

The Child of the Islands, 248 

The Cow with the Crumpled Horn, 289 

The Debt of Honour, 226 



The Dream, 252, 254 

The Graves of a Household, 257 

The Mother's Heart, 257, 258 

The Lady of La Garaye, 256 

The Lament of the Irish Emigrant, 234, 

237 
The Pleasures of Hope, 325 
The Prude, 225 

The Recollections of a Faded Beauty, 257 
The Times, 266 
The Undying One, 247 
The Wandering Jew, 247 
The Widow to her Sou's Betrothed, 269 
Thomas Street, 336 
Thomas Town, 294 
Tighe, Henry, 55, 56, 310 
Tighe, Mrs., 52, 63, 132, 294, 303, 307,, 

308, 309, 310, 312, 315 
Tighe, Airs, (of Rosanna), 55 
Tighe, R., 313 

Tighe, Right Honourable William, 52 
Tighe, William, 61, 63 
Timolin, 303 

Townshend, Viscountess, 287 
Twceddale, Marquis of, 233 
Tweeddale, Marchioness of, 286 



TJNIVERSITY of Cambridge, 6 



YAUXHALL, 285 

' Viceregal Court of Dublin, 53, 284 
Virginia, 244 
Voice from the Factories, 247 



WAGNER, Mrs. (Mrs. Browne), 109 
Wales, 322 
Wales, Princess of, 179 
Wales, Caroline, Princess of, 17 
Walker, Dr. Anthony, 68 
Walker, Joseph C, 33, 34, 43, 45, 49 
Walpole, Horace, 281, 284, 288, 289 
Warrens, 303 
Waterford, 294, 309, 311 
Warwick, Charles, Earl of, 64, 67 
Warwick, Countess of, 64, 69 
Warwick, Robert, Earl of, 65 
Wellington, Duke of, 315 
Westminster Abbey, 246 



360 



INDEX. 



Westminster County Court, 245 

Wexford, 314 

Wbately, Dr., 136 

WLitbread, 98 

White, Lydia, 60, 99 

Wicklow, County of, 335, 337 

Wilberforce, William, 219, 319, 322 

Wylde, Lady, 108, 212 

Wilkes, 9 

Wilkie, 202 

Winchilsea, 275 

Winter, 249 



Wiseman, Cardinal, 195 

Woffiugton, Peg, 31, 280, 284 

Woodstock, 293, 300, 301, 303, 307 

Woodward, 14 

Worcester, 288 

Wordsworth, William, 130, 131, 137, 

324, 325, 351 
Wycberly, 29 



TTORKSHIRE, 288 
-L Young, Dr., 308 



THE END. 



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